Parsons spins two-hit shutout

Braves right-hander hurls first complete game of pro career

Wes Parsons earned his first victory since July 7. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | August 4, 2013 5:21 PM ET

Jackson State is not exactly a hotbed of baseball activity.

The junior college has sent fewer than a dozen players to the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in the past four decades and most have never tasted a cup of coffee in "The Show."

Wes Parsons is the latest alum with the chance to put his school on the map.

The 20-year-old right-hander scattered two hits while striking out seven batters over a career-high nine innings in the Class A Rome Braves' 1-0 win over the Lexington Legends.

It was the first professional complete game and first shutout for Parsons, who signed with the Braves as a non-drafted free agent last July after his first season with the Generals.

"I think it went great," said Parsons, who was embraced afterward by his older sister Stephanie, 25, who traveled three-and-a-half hours to watch him pitch for the first time. "My mechanics were working and I'm really speechless after it all. I had great fastball command, my two-seam sinker was good and my slider was working.

"My sister was crying after the game and I told her I was glad she was there ... She made the trip just for today. It's awesome. I'm glad she was there to see me pitch, it's a great feeling."

Parsons gave up a pair of infield bunt singles by Raul Mondesi -- one to shortstop Eric Garcia with two outs in the first inning and another fielded by catcher Chase Anselment to lead off the fourth -- before retiring the final 18 batters he faced.

"The first [hit] was a great bunt. He's fast," Parsons said of Mondesi. "My third baseman [Carlos Franco] called me off and it was a close play [at first base]. The second, we let it roll down the line, hoping it would go foul.

"[Chase] did a phenomenal job. We were on the same page all nine innings and I didn't shake once. He did a great job keeping the ball in front when I threw it in the dirt, and at the end, I just had to give him a big ol' hug."

The outing helped him improve to 4-6 and lower his ERA to 2.99. In 14 South Atlantic League starts, Parsons has struck out 74 batters over 81 1/3 innings.

This time last year, he would never have expected to be celebrating his first shutout.

Parsons did not attract attention of scouts out of high school, and he went mostly unnoticed in college, where he admitted he spent more time worrying about baseball than his academics. It wasn't until he played in a wood-bat collegiate summer ball league in Canada that people started to take a second look.

"I played in the Northwoods [League] for the Thunder Bay Border Cats in Ontario and that was where they saw me. I was just trying to get my name out there," he said. "I was just trying to get some exposure, because I really wanted to play ball to see where it would take me.

"It was a tough decision at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I needed to go. Our first game in Waterloo, Iowa, a Tampa Bay scout came to talk to me, and that was when I realized I had something good going. He asked what it would take not to go back to school."

Parson, who describes himself as "not the best student" and "just a kid," still wanted to talk with his parents about the meeting with the scout. Then, after appearing in the league's All-Star Game, he received similar inquiries from the Braves, Phillies, D-backs and Royals.

"I grew up a Braves fan, so that had a lot to do with my decision." said Parsons, who idolized Greg Maddox, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine as a youngster. "I would not have minded playing for or signing with somebody else, but when it came to either money or my childhood dream, that played the biggest role."

A total of 11 players have been drafted out of Jackson State Community College, most notably first-rounder and All Star Ross Grimsley in 1969 who appeared in 345 Major League games between Cincinnati, Montreal, Baltimore and Cleveland. Others, such as George Sherrill, spent time with the Generals before later going to the Majors. Parsons hopes to one day join this list.

"It's not a very big junior college, but it was just the best option for me at the time," Parsons said. "I'm not sure a lot of area scouts went there, or maybe they did and I had no idea. But being an undrafted free agent or being drafted, we're pretty much all the same."

On Sunday, Anselment provided the lone offense, hitting a solo homer to left field to lead off the fifth frame.

Lexington starter Greg Billo (1-1) allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out five batters over 5 2/3 innings in a losing effort.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More