Over his first two years of pro ball, Jarrett Parker hit .250 and struck out a whopping 319 times with San Jose in the Class A Advanced California League. Given these less-than-stellar numbers, it may have come as a surprise to some when he was promoted to Richmond to start this season.
"I wasn't surprised," said the 24-year-old corner outfielder.
Fred Stanley, San Francisco's director of player development, said a simple change of scenery can sometimes aid a player. And in the case of Parker, the relocation represented a homecoming as he grew up just an hour north of Richmond in Stafford, Va.
"He has some Major League tools," said Stanley, adding that Parker also has been aided by more protection in the Richmond lineup. "He can play all three outfield positions. He's really starting to figure it out."
That was certainly the case Sunday when he delivered a pinch-hit homer off Justin Souza in the 10th inning to give Richmond a 5-4 win over visiting Erie, his sixth long ball in his last 10 games.
"It was a 3-2 changeup," recalled Parker, who is hitting .258 with 11 homers, 33 RBIs, nine doubles, three triples and six steals this season. "I watched the batters before me. That's what baseball is about: being comfortable and confident."
A standout at the University of Virginia, Parker was a second-round pick of the Giants in 2010. After a slow start this season in which he hit .205 in his first 73 at-bats, he batted .291 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 28 games in May.
"A lot of the California guys have been complaining about the weather, but I've enjoyed it," Parker said. "It's also nice to be on familiar turf. That's been helpful for me."
His parents have made the short trek down I-95 to see home games in Richmond and were also at Bowie, less than two hours from their home in Northern Virginia, for a series in early May.
Parker put on a show during a recent four-game series in Altoona. He hit two homers May 25, then hit two more the next day with both blasts coming in the first inning. He had seven RBIs that game and in the series amassed eight hits, including five homers, and 12 RBIs.
"We're seeing great arms every night," said Parker, who has struck out 60 times and walked 18 in 51 games this season. "Guys have unbelievable arms."
Along with the move closer to home, Parker has also been relocated within the Richmond lineup. After batting fifth, sixth or seventh for much of the season, he was moved to the leadoff spot in mid May and has formed a solid one-two punch with second baseman Joe Panik.
"The thing about Joe is he always has quality, consistent at-bats," Parker said. "He can spray the ball to left, right and center."
Walk-off magic: For the third time in a week, Bowie gave up a lead in the ninth inning only to win the game. One of the heroes for the Baysox was Brandon Waring, who slapped a base-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 win over Reading on Thursday. "I was looking to get the job done early," Waring said. "I was sitting 1-0 and he threw me a fastball a little bit up that I fouled off. I took a step out to get focused and he threw another pitch lower in the zone and I was able to get the head of the bat on it."
Rough opening: Christian Garcia, one of the top pitching prospects in the Washington Nationals system, made his first appearance of the season Friday night with Harrisburg and allowed two runs in the ninth inning as Trenton won, 4-3. The 27-year-old right-hander, who made 13 relief appearances with the Nats last season, bounced back Sunday and pitched a scoreless inning.
Flying solo: Altoona beat Portland, 2-1, on Saturday night with all three runs coming on leadoff homers, including Mel Rojas' game-winner off Miguel Celestino in the top of the ninth inning. "It was certainly an interesting game," Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles told The Portland Press-Herald.