Former first-round Draft pick Jarrod Parker needed a couple starts to find his groove after missing all of last year with an elbow injury. With just a handful of outings remaining this season, he's pleased with the way things have gone.
Parker (11-7) yielded three hits and three walks while striking out six batters over six scoreless innings in Double-A Mobile's 6-2 win over Jacksonville.
"Everything has gone to plan this year," the Arizona farmhand said. "I'm healthy and strong and I've made every start. It's all been great and now I wanted to finish the season strong."
MLB.com's No. 20 prospect worked around a pair of two-out walks in the first inning and Kyle Jensen's single to right field in the second. He then used double plays in each of the next two frames to keep the Generals off the board before retiring six of the final seven batters he faced.
"I just tried to get ahead of hitters and finish them off when I got a chance," Parker said. "I got some ground balls when I needed them, and my defense was awesome. We doubled up Kevin Mattison, who is one of the fastest guys in the league, and then we got a 3-6-1 double play in a big situation."
Eight of Parker's 18 outs were recorded via ground balls, something the right-hander has been working hard on since his return.
"That has been a big thing for me in the second half of the season, because I've been working on my two-seamer which sinks," he explained. "My command was good and I was around the zone, but they had a good approach and they made me work. I made some adjustments and tried to get them to hit the ball into the ground and get themselves out.
"I also used my change-up and slider, and I mixed in a couple curve balls just to show it."
Selected ninth overall in the 2007 Draft, Parker lowered his Southern League ERA to 3.89 in the victory. He has won six of his last seven decisions, and he is just the seventh pitcher in BayBears' history to reach 11 wins in a single season.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of 2009 and not pitching for the ensuing 21 months, the 22-year-old experienced several struggles upon his return to the mound. He posted a 9.00 ERA in four April starts, largely because he surrendered 15 runs over seven innings in his first two outings.
Since then, the Indiana native is 9-5 with a 3.01 ERA, and he has only allowed five or more runs in two of his other 19 appearances. He has thrown 115 2/3 innings so far, two innings shy of his career high set in South Bend in '08.
"I knew that I would stumble at times, but I stuck with it because I wasn't going to get down," said Parker. "Now I'm pitching well and the team is doing well. I'm looking forward to the playoff run.
"I've been on an innings limit around five or six innings, but it's been up to the manager and pitching coach's discretion. Maybe in a big game or a playoff game I'd go longer."
Suns starter Omar Poveda (7-6) took the loss in his shortest outing of the season, giving up three runs on four hits with four walks in two innings.