Monday, November 14, 2011

Prospect A to Z Day 16: Parker Markel

Parker Markel was twice a late-round pick, selected by Detroit in the 32nd round out of high school in 2009 and again in the 39th round by the Rays in 2010, when he signed from Yavapai Junior College in Arizona. He was unheralded, as 30-something-round picks are, with inconsistent scouting reports. Here's BaseballAmerica's report on him from 2009:
Righthander Parker Markel had arm problems in the fall and was recovering from them this spring, so his stuff was down a little bit. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder still had enough stuff get results. He was throwing just 82 mph in a fall bullpen session, but his stuff came back as the spring progressed--he touched 91 mph--and he gets a lot of sink on his fastball from his three-quarters arm slot. He could add velocity as he matures. He has clean mechanics, the ball jumps out of his hand and he competes well. He'll head to Yavapai if he doesn't sign.
And from 2010:
Righthander Parker Markel can run his fastball up to 93 mph, but he's another guy who doesn't have a clean delivery and profiles as a middle reliever.
Emphasis mine, for the obvious contradiction. But such are the ways when getting second- or third-hand information about a lesser-known guy like Markel. He signed in time to pitch 10.1 innings in the Gulf Coast, striking out 13 and walking three. Impressive, but hardly enough to call him a guy to watch. Assigned to Hudson Valley, ESPN's Keith Law happened to see one of his early-season starts and filed this report:
A 39th-round pick out of Yavapai Junior College in Arizona, Markel was 92-97 mph early in the outing with a plus slider at 81-82 and a solid-average changeup with good arm speed at 81-84, although I think the low arm slot will still work against him somewhat against left-handed hitters. There's a lot of effort in his delivery without much use of his lower half, and as a result he didn't hold the velocity through his outing, working at 91-93 in the sixth with much less bite on the slider. He's a low-3/4 slinger who doesn't stride much or get over his front side well, and that -- plus the fact that he didn't hold his stuff -- makes him more likely to be a reliever. Even then, he's a reliever with two plus pitches, an average third pitch, and an aggressive approach making him a potential asset with late-game potential.
That raised some eyebrows for sure. A quality fastball, a plus slider, AND the makings of a usable change-up? Sign me up. Law noted some issues with his stamina, arm slot, and delivery, jiving with the earlier report, but that still sounds like a heck of a prospect.

But Markel had kind of a weird overall statline. Perhaps because of his stamina issues, he was excellent in June and July before getting rocked in August and September. His ERA (3.14), BB/9 (3.6), and K/9 (6.9) are okay but nothing special. The strikeouts, in particular, don't match up with the scouting report. That's one half of the weird part, along with his low H/9 of 6.6. Guys with great stuff are generally able to post low hit rates in the minors because of their ability to get strikeouts or at least weak contact. Matt Moore's career rate, for example, is 6.1. But a rate that low generally comes with a high number of strikeouts, as logicially strikeouts cannot go for hits while batted balls can.

So I think in 2012 at least one of those stats is going the other way. If his strikeout rate stays low, expect the hits to climb. If the hit rate stays low, expect it to be because he's striking more people out. In 2010, Jake Thompson had a strikeout rate of 6.9 -- identical to Markel -- and a hit rate of 5.3, along with similar reports of quality stuff. In 2011, he got the double-whammy as his strikeout rate fell to 4.4 and the hit rate inflated to 8.9.

I fear Markel may be of a similar profile. Reports on his stuff are great, and BA rated him the #3 prospect in the NY-PL, but the lack of strikeouts are a concern. Even though stats don't matter as much at that level, it seems players with his stuff would be able to overwhelm lower-level hitters. Markel didn't show that ability; even in June and July he was fanning under a batter per inning.

But it's obviously possible that things go the other way, his strikeout rate bounces up as he continues to develop and a regression of his .248 BABIP doesn't sting too badly. He was able to clean up his delivery somewhat, but his late-season struggles, if they were due to fatigue, may be a sign pointing toward the bullpen. 2012 will be a telling season as he handles a a full-season workload.


  1. interested to see your prospect A-Z on wrigley. i agree with one of your writers that he is the most overlooked prospect.led the biscuits in hits, HR, and RBI. does tampa finally give him his shot?

  2. Wrigley's career-high OBP is .312 (which he did last year) and his career mark is .293. Like it or not the Rays value that stat and I really don't see them giving a guy who gets on base at that clip a shot. You mention his counting stats, and those are nice, but OBP matters.

    Take Russ Canzler, for example. He led his team in hits, RBIs, and home runs. But look at the difference in their 2011 lines:
    Wrigley: .274/.309/.464
    Canzler: .314/.401/.530

    Canzler got some big league time at the end of 2011 and may be in the mix for 2012. If Wrigley can his numbers up near Canzler's, then yeah, he deserves a shot. But look at the difference in OBP, it's almost .100 points.

  3. matthew spann still a possible s spot

  4. Assuming Matulia is gone for good, Wrigley is one of two players left from the 2005 draft. So he's got that going for him.

  5. Excellent analysis, Kevin. Will be interesting to see whether the Rays try to clean up his mechanics and try him as a starter or whether they just refine them and develop him as a reliever.