It's not impossible to score a run on Tommy Parsons, but it might feel that way to opposing teams right now.The right-handed St. Louis prospect struck out a career-high 12 while allowing just one hit over eight scoreless innings before Class A Advanced Palm Beach fell to Lakeland, 2-0, in
It's not impossible to score a run on Tommy Parsons, but it might feel that way to opposing teams right now.
The right-handed St. Louis prospect struck out a career-high 12 while allowing just one hit over eight scoreless innings before Class A Advanced Palm Beach fell to Lakeland, 2-0, in 11 innings at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
Following a one-out single by Dylan Rosa in the second inning, Parsons sat down the next nine batters before issuing a walk to Colby Bortles. That was the last Flying Tigers batter to reach as the 23-year-old retired the last 11, including striking out the final four.
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"My changeup was effective," Parsons said. "I was able to throw it in any count for strikes. It was moving a lot and they were swinging over the top of it. It was playing well off of my fastball and slider. I just had everything moving well."
But the strikeouts weren't exactly the 23-year-old's main focus. He deflected a lot of the credit to the Palm Beach defense playing behind him.
"It's kind of unusual for me to get all these strikeouts," Parsons said. "But I have a great defense behind me that is able to make plays and I'm able to fill the zone up with all four of my pitches and force contact, force them to swing at the pitch I want them to."
Starting at Class A Peoria this season, the righty posted a 4-0 record with an 0.26 ERA in five games, holding opponents to a .120 average. Over 35 innings, he allowed one earned run on 14 hits while striking out 26. His previous career high of eight whiffs came on April 16 against Clinton.
After a tough debut, Parsons has made a smooth transition to the Florida State League with a 3-1 record. The Michigan native has allowed two earned runs over the last 31 1/3 innings dating back to May 11. His ERA stands at 1.78 with 36 strikeouts. His previous high for innings pitched was seven, accomplished in a May 11 victory over Bradenton.
What has been the biggest difference?
"First thing is the heat," Parsons said.
Being from north of the Mason-Dixon line, he finds some advantages to pitching in colder temperatures.
"I kind of like it cold just because I went to school in Michigan and grew up in Ohio, so I'm used to it," Parsons said. "I also know hitters especially don't like hitting in the cold. Their hands hurt when they don't make good contact."
Yet he has proven to be just as effective in the Florida heat. Weather aside, the adjustment also required getting used to more professional hitters.
"The hitters' approach is a little different," Parsons said. "They take better pitches and make you work a little bit harder to put them away. You will get them with two strikes, but they will keep fighting, lay off some good pitches that start in the zone but break out. They just make you get them out instead of getting themselves out."
While Palm Beach pitching coach Will Ohman has helped Parsons develop his offerings, he's also helped him with the mental side of pitching.
"We've worked on my slider and he's been really helpful with that and getting me to throw it," he said. "It's really trusting yourself and he's been helpful with that … and attack guys with what pitch when, what to follow what and what plays off each other."
Righty Bryan Dobzanski (1-1) pitched scoreless ninth and 10th frames before a two-out ground-rule double to center field by Dayton Dugas broke the scoreless tie in the 11th. Reece Hampton followed with a single to left that plated Dugas.
Right-hander Tom de Blok matched Parsons for six frames, giving up one hit and three walks while fanning two. His opponent said he didn't stray from his gameplan as zero after zero went up on the board.
"I was just trying to do my job and not focus on anything [else]," Parsons said. "I didn't realize how fast the game was going until I looked up in the fifth inning and saw we hadn't been playing for an hour yet. [de Blok] pitched great too. It's always hard to go up against that."
Angel De Jesus and Wladimir Pinto (3-1) pitched two innings apiece, and Brad Bass worked around a hit in the 11th for his first save of the season.
Brian Stultz is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianjstultz.