Sitting in the dugout between innings, David Parkinson's thoughts wander beyond the realms of baseball -- anything but baseball.
The left-handed Philadelphia prospect found himself overthinking too much while on the bench earlier this season. So he made the decision to take his mind off the game when his Class A Lakewood squad comes to bat.
Sticking with that adjustment, Parkinson fanned a career-high 11 batters over seven innings Sunday in the BlueClaws' 4-0 victory over the Crawdads at FirstEnergy Park. He scattered three hits and did not walk anyone in his third straight scoreless outing. Parkinson has not allowed an earned run in his last five starts.
Gameday box score
"I think there's definitely some confidence that rolls over," the 22-year-old said. "I think, more than anything that rolls over from other starts, is that feeling of executing the pitches and being able to replicate that."
Parkinson kept Hickory out of the hit column until the third inning when Yonny Hernandez dropped a single into shallow right field. He recovered by striking out Bubba Thompson and Pedro Gonzalez to end the frame then retired the side in order in the fourth and worked around a two-out single by Austin O'Banion in the fifth.
The Virginia native struck out Yohel Pozo with a runner on to get out of the sixth. Parkinson set his new career high, surpassing the previous mark of 10 he had for Class A Short Season Williamsport against Batavia last year, by striking out Tyreque Reed looking for the second out of the seventh. Tyler Ratliff flew out to right for the final out of Parkinson's outing.
"Honestly, I don't really consider myself a big strikeout pitcher," he said. "I think I just take advantage of the opportunities I'm given. If I get that 0-2, 1-2 count, I have a lot of confidence that I have the pitch to put him away. It could be any one of my pitches."
Parkinson's mix these days involves the fastball, the changeup and the curveball. He's also been working on a slider.
"That used to be my big pitch and I just kind of lost it," the left-hander said. "I've been playing around with it trying to figure that pitch out, which would be a pretty big help, getting that back in the repertoire."
Parkinson threw 69 of his 97 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 1.07, which leads the South Atlantic League, and extended his scoreless-inning streak to 24.
"It feels good seeing the results come out," he said. "But it's another stat. I just try to keep my head down and keep the same process I've been on and not think too much about it."
Instead the 2017 12th-round pick focuses on his daily routine.
"Just going out there every day trying to learn something small, trying to fine-tune every part of my game, whatever that may be -- in the bullpens, when I'm playing catch, everything," he said.
Among the things Parkinson works on during bullpen sessions with Lakewood pitching coach Brad Bergesen is feeling the release point on his fastball to one side of the plate vs. how it feels when he's locating the pitch to the opposite side.
The Ole Miss product hasn't allowed an earned run since May 14. Three unearned runs crossed the plate May 28 against Delmarva, but those are the only blemishes on his ledger in that span.
Two major adjustments have set Parkinson on this path to success, he thinks. The first was correcting action that brought his arm too far away from his body, which caused him to fly open. Bergesen encouraged him to keep more weight on his back side before transferring it forward at the last minute. The other main change has been mentally escaping for those precious moments in the dugout.
"With two outs on my team, I lock back in so I can do what I'm supposed to," Parkinson said.
What are some things the 6-foot-2 prospect thinks about?
"Literally anything," he said. "It could be anything. Thoughts may wander to whatever. ... Just kind of joking around with the guys in the dugout, just playing around. It's really nothing specific."
But just like he blocks out the game when he's on the bench, Parkinson said it would be detrimental to constantly think about putting zeros on the board.
"If I do that, I feel like I'm going to get into my head way more than I should be," he said. "One thing I'm really just worried about is keeping the team in the game, doing the best I can to get off the field as quick as I can and trying to throw a 'W' up in the win column."
Phillies No. 30 prospect Nick Maton drove in two runs while Jake Scheiner and Rodolfo Duran added solo homers to account for the Blue Claws' offense.