Parker Bugg Relishes Relief Role
When he’s at his best, 6-foot-6, 225-pound righthander Parker Bugg’s pitches are as mysterious as his father’s former profession.
His dad, Steven Bugg, is now retired from the U.S. Secret Service. But when Parker was young, his father would often be off in a foreign land, working anywhere from Saudi Arabia so South Africa.
Only recently, Parker learned that his father, among other duties, helped protect President Gerald Ford after he had left office.
“I still hear new stories about his work when my dad is telling somebody else,” said Bugg, 24, with a laugh. “But he never told us anything.”
Steven Bugg, who was also a pitcher at the University of Louisville as well as a walk-on basketball player at 6-foot-5, is a lot more talkative when it comes to Parker’s baseball career. When Steven was overseas, he would call his wife, Betty Ann, and she—over time—learned to give him detailed reports on Parker’s pitching.
Lately, there’s been a lot to tell. Bugg, a starter in high school at San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo, became a reliever as a freshman at Louisiana State, and he has never gone back.
In three years and 80 appearances at LSU, Bugg went 4-6, 2.64 with nine saves, holding batters to a .200 average. The Marlins drafted him in the 27th round in 2016.
His pro breakthrough came in 2018, when he went 2-1, 3.07 in 37 appearances at high Class A Jupiter, sporting a 0.92 WHIP as a swingman reliever.
Clearly, after five years in the bullpen, Bugg is entrenched in this role.
“In college, I was like the security blanket,” Bugg said. “When we were in a jam, they’d say, ‘Let’s go get Bugg.’ I didn’t really mind.
“Now, it’s whatever path is going to allow me to make it to the majors. Either way, you have to put up zeroes.”
Bugg puts up those zeroes with the help of a fastball that ranges 90-94 mph, a reliable slider and a splitter that he uses to handle lefties.
Jupiter manager Kevin Randle, who credits pitching coach Bruce Walton for much of Bugg’s progress, believes the prospect is a bit of a late bloomer.
“He just pounded the zone for us, low and away,” Randle said of Bugg. “Whenever we needed a stop, he was probably the most reliable arm I had.”