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Minor League Prospects: Kyle Parker Can be a Fantasy Force in 2014

In doing some scouting for a dynasty league that I’m in where we allow each team to have the “rights” of five Minor League Prospects, one name really jumped out at me — Colorado Rockies prospect Kyle Parker.

We’ll start with the numbers. Since joining the Rockies organization for the 2011 season, look at what Parker has done.

Kyle Parker, 2011-2013

Season
AB
H
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
20114451277521952.285/.367/.483
20123901208623731.308/.415/.562
20134801387023746.288/.345/.492

Seeing those numbers, you might have a problem believing a few things.

  1. Parker has moved up a level each year. The 2011 season was 100 percent in A ball, 2012 was exclusively in A+ ball, while 2013 was nothing but AA. No significant drops in production exist, except maybe in stats like runs and RBI, which are as dependent on your teammates as they are on you.
  2. If you know your minor league teams and levels, you know that since he’s yet to play for the Rockies Triple-A team (Colorado Springs), those numbers aren’t even inflated by altitude.

Of course, none of that directly means that he’ll be that kind of hitter when he gets the call to the majors, but I can’t help but be encouraged. No significant decline when facing better competition is a pretty good indication of a guy who’ll do pretty well for himself when getting to the show.

 

What am I fearing

Nothing definitively screams “STAY AWAY”, but one thing is a bit alarming.

Kyle Parker Strikeout/Walk Rates

 
PA's
K's
K %
BB's
BB %
201151613325.8 %489.3 %
20124638819.0 %6612.3 %
20135289918.8 %407.6 %
Total150732021.2 %15410.2%

If you have exactly 600 plate appearances and K 20 percent of the time, you’re striking out 120 times in a season. Similarly, walking 10 percent of the time in 600 plate appearances works out to 60 walks.

The totals aren’t terrible, but they’re not great for the minor league level. Pitchers tend to be more wild down there and obviously not as good as you’ll see in the majors, so you should be drawing more walks and striking out less down there.

My primary fear with Parker is that when he gets into the Majors, specifically in the very pitching-rich NL West, pitchers will take advantage of his aggressiveness and throw bad pitches early in the count, get up in the count, and finish him off with relative ease.

Fortunately, it’s not exactly a unique problem for young hitters. Many of those young hitters don’t have Parker’s good numbers or overall athletic background (he was the starting QB at Clemson for two years), and they’re not taking half of their at-bats at Coors Field.

You certainly have to be aware of the negatives, but they don’t crush his value.

 

What I like 

We’ve already gone over his overall body of work and consistency. It’s awfully tough to expect a big regression when Parker hits the next level because it’s never happened to him before. You never want to rely too much on past stats but consistency does equal dependability.

Other positives include, but are not limited to:

  • Coors Field — There’s no place like it. Nothing about Coors Field doesn’t work in the hitter’s favor. Other great hitter’s parks offer something that pitchers can play to. Not Coors.
  • A Good Rockies Lineup – Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are a little injury prone, but they’re about as good as it gets this side of Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera when on the field. Michael Cuddyer was an overachiever, but is a solid hitter. Justin Morneau isn’t what he used to be, but is still a decent run producer. Them, combined with Nolan Arenado, the DJ LeMahieu/Josh Rutledge duo, and Wilin Rosario will give Parker plenty of help when he gets into the Rox lineup.
  • Good Athletic Past – As we went over above, in addition to being a good baseball player, Parker was also a quarterback at Clemson for two seasons. I won’t sit here and tell you that the skills translate, but it’s good to know that someone you’re thinking about adding to your fantasy team is a good athlete. Also, if some of the above troubles do surface, know that the fact that he played two sports at a high level is a good sign that he’ll have the work ethic to fight through the problems.

 

When Will We See Parker?

Both the MLB Prospect Watch and MLB Depth Charts indicate that we’ll see Kyle Parker at the midpoint of 2014, which makes sense. He’s MLB’s No. 6 first base prospect, but played 20 games in right field and 77 games in left in 2013.

On paper, he’s being blocked by Carlos Gonzalez in left, Michael Cuddyer in right, and Justin Morneau at first. I don’t see him vaulting them too early and with the possible exception of Morneau, they’re far more likely to be starters when healthy.

But there are a few caveats.

  1. Every one of the players blocking Parker is likely to miss some time throughout the year, opening a door for Parker.
  2. Even if they all stay healthy, if Parker plays well enough, there is a way to the majors. With all due respect to Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs, their center field platoon can certainly be improved on. Gonzalez hasn’t played center in a few years, but he’s got more than enough experience and athleticism to slide over, opening the door for Parker to play left. If Parker’s hitting well in the minors and the Rockies aren’t really contending, this wouldn’t surprise me at all.

 

What Should you do with Parker?

He’s not a draft-and-stash guy as even if he plays well, a few things would need to go Parker’s way to get him to the show. In a dynasty league where you draft Minor League players, I’d give him a very strong look.

If you lose an outfielder or first baseman early in the year, keep an eye on what Kyle Parker is doing in the Minors, and read the reports on how likely he is to be called up and when it’s going to happen. If it seems like a move to the show is imminent, I’d hold off on making a big trade to shake up the rest of your team. He has the combination of potential and consistency that can make an impact in the majors as soon as he gets the call.

 

Tags: 1B Colorado Rockies Fantasy Prospects Kyle Parker Minor League MLB OF

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