Improved Focus Paying Off For Parker





DENVER Lenn Sakata describes Kyle Parker's improvement this season as "remarkable."

Sakata should know. He's managing the right fielder at high Class A Modesto, one year after the two were together at low Class A Asheville, where Sakata was the hitting coach and Parker began his professional career.

"His strike-zone discipline's better," Sakata said. "He's making adjustments quicker at the plate when he realizes they're pitching him tough. That's been a remarkable metamorphosis, really. His overall game has really improved. He's a better defender. He's running better.

"I see more of an intensity at the plate, but he's taken that into other areas of baseball. I just think he's more committed this year than he was last year."

The 26th overall pick out of Clemson in the 2010 draft, Parker hit .285/.367/.483 at Asheville with 21 home runs and 95 RBIs last season. He also struck out 133 times, or once every 3.3 at-bats, with just 48 walks.

Parker wore down late last season, which isn't a surprise, considering his offseason was both brief and limited. He played quarterback at Clemson in the fall of 2010 and suffered a broken rib in a bowl game.

This year began slowly for Parker, 22. He was hit with a pitch on the left wrist in Modesto's second game and missed 35 games. During his recovery, Parker worked on his lower half and is moving much better in the outfield.

It understandably took time to shake off the rust, but Parker hit .298 in June and .378 in July to improve his overall line to .315/.417/.532 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 327 at-bats. He had 52 walks and 71 strikeouts.

"He's going the other way better," Sakata said. "I think he's more confident he can let the ball travel and get back to him more. I think he's making better decisions at the plate."

ROCKY ROADS

• Lefthander Jayson Aquino, 19, was 1-0, 1.54 after two starts for Rookie-level Grand Junction after earning a promotion from the Dominican Summer League, where he went 6-1, 1.52 with nine walks and 74 strikeouts in nine starts.

• Since his last loss June 16 in the final game of the first half, Modesto righthander Christian Bergman had gone 6-0, 3.06 and was 14-5, 3.13 overall.