David Parkinson Corrals His Curveball
David Parkinson began 2018 as a little-known lefthander in the Phillies' system. By the time the season ended, everyone knew his name.
That happens when you post a 1.45 ERA—the lowest in the minor leagues—over 124.1 innings at two levels of Class A ball.
"It was a remarkable season, really incredible,” said Brad Bergesen, the pitching coach at low Class A Lakewood.
Parkinson went 8-1, 1.51 in 17 starts for Lakewood. He moved to high Class A Clearwater in August and went 3-0, 1.24 in 29 innings.
For the season, Parkinson finished with 141 strikeouts and just 35 walks to go with a 1.01 WHIP. His work earned him the Paul Owens award as the most outstanding pitcher in the system.
The 22-year-old Parkinson was a 12th-round pick out of Mississippi in 2017. He opened the 2018 season with 10 scoreless innings in his first two starts and had a five-start stretch from May 21 to June 17 where he did not allow an earned run over 32 innings.
Parkinson features a four-pitch mix that scouts rate as average. What set him apart in 2018 was improved command of his curveball.
"Brad Bergesen helped me get consistent with my offspeed pitch," Parkinson said. "I think that was the thing that helped me figure it out this year. I always had pretty good fastball command, but I didn’t have strong command on a secondary pitch. I was able to use my curveball and changeup in good counts.”
Parkinson always had a good curveball, according to Bergesen. He simply learned to use it more effectively in 2018.
"He learned to use it in and out of the strike zone, backdoor to a righty, back foot to a righty,” Bergeson said. "He started to understand how to sequence it better. He’d use an elevated fastball off his curveball, and vice versa.”
Scouts like the deception in Parkinson’s delivery. That and his pitching smarts will help him as he climbs the ladder.
"David is very analytic and intelligent,” Bergesen said. "He is advanced in game-planning and sequencing. His preparation is excellent. He has deception in his delivery. He knows his strengths and how they play against a hitter’s weakness. He’s never complacent and is always dedicated to finding a way to get better. The sky is the limit.”
Classification All-Star Teams
Baseball America honors minor leaguers at all levels with our annual Classification All-Stars.
>> The Phillies awarded Parkinson as the system's pitcher of the year, even though Triple-A Lehigh Valley lefthander Cole Irvin was the International League pitcher of the year.
>> First baseman/outfielder Austin Listi won the Owens award on the position side. He hit .312/.412/.502 with 18 home runs and 25 doubles between Clearwater and Double-A Reading.