Let’s continue our journey through the later rounds of the draft. Just like yesterday, we’ll take a final look at prospects who were drafted in the eighth and ninth rounds. I’m less sanguine about these players compared to some of the guys we hit on yesterday, but developing an eighth- or a ninth-round pick into a major leaguer should always be seen as a success.
Bobby Parnell, rhp, Mets: Parnell struggled in his last two years at Charleston Southern, where had difficulties throwing strikes and finished with an 8.86 ERA in his final college season. He dropped to the Mets in the ninth round in 2005, but he’s been moderately successful as a pro, posting a 4.04 ERA in 470 minor league innings. Parnell, who turned 24 in September, has a good fastball that helps him generate strong ground ball rates. He came up through the minors as a starter but made six appearances for the big league club last year out of the bullpen, a role that might better leverage his skill set. Parnell walks too many batters (4.0 per nine innings in Double-A last year, 3.9 per nine in his minor league career) and doesn’t have a high strikeout rate (6.4 per nine in Double-A) despite the positive reports on his stuff. Parnell sits in the low-90s as a starter, but he’ll pitch regularly at 93-94 mph and touch 97 in relief, which could result in more strikeouts. If he can throw more strikes, he could be a productive reliever.
Clayton Richard, lhp, White Sox: If you throw enough strikes and keep hitters off balance with your pitch sequencing, you can have success at the minor league level. Whether Richard can replicate his minor league success into steady big league production remains to be seen. An eighth-round pick out of Michigan in 2005 who turned 25 in September, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Richard is a physical pitcher without power stuff. His fastball velocity is average, though the sink on the pitch helps keep the ball on the ground. His changeup is his go-to secondary pitch, but his offspeed stuff is generally fringy. There are a lot of fungible fifth-starter types around the league that Richard will try to differentiate himself from, but by already reaching the big leagues, he’s made it farther than most eighth-round picks.
Mike Carp, 1b/of, Mariners: Carp was a California prepster when the Mets drafted him in the ninth round in 2004. By 2006, Carp hit .287/.379/.450 in 137 games as a 20-year-old in the high Class A Florida State League. He struggled adjusting to Double-A in 2007—.251/.337/.387 in 97 games—and returned to Binghamton for 2008. He became one of the best hitters in the Eastern League last season, batting .299/.403/.471 in 134 games, showing some improved plate discipline and recording nearly as many walks (79) as strikeouts (88). In December, the Mets included Carp in a three-team, 12-player trade that brought J.J. Putz to the Big Apple. Despite showing some power and posting an OBP above .400 in Double-A, Carp’s scouting reports have never been as sunny as his performance record. Defensively he is limited either to first base or a corner outfield position, where his defense is below-average, and some scouts have concerns about whether Carp’s bat speed will enable him to hit for anything more than average power.
Mark Hallberg, ss/2b, Diamondbacks: If there has been a theme among the hitters we’ve looked at this week, it might be this: strike-zone discipline. While their hit or power tools might be a little short, or they might be limited to first base or a corner outfield position, they maximize their tools with a good approach at the plate and good pitch recognition skills. That description fits Hallberg, a ninth-round pick in 2007 out of Florida State. Hallberg, who turned 23 in December, batted .283/.357/.368 in 69 games last year in the high Class A California League after missing time early with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Hallberg is a good contact hitter who struck out just 28 times in 311 plate appearances and drew 30 walks with a disciplined approach. He showed little power in his first full season, so he’ll have to show that he’s more than just a polished college hitter taking advantage of A-ball pitchers this season when he hits Double-A.
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