Kyle Parker was selected 26th overall by the Colorado Rockies in the 2010 MLB draft. A two-sport athlete, Parker also played quarterback for the Clemson Tigers. He hit 46 home runs in three years at Clemson, including 20 in his junior season.
Parker continued his power-hitting ways in his first professional season. Aided by the tiny dimensions of the Asheville Tourists stadium, Parker hit .285/.367/.483 with 21 home runs over 516 plate appearances in single-A ball. He did strike out 133 times. He made strides the next season in high-A, hitting .308/.415/.562 with 23 home runs in 463 plate appearances. The walk and strikeout ratios improved, as he struck out 88 times against 66 walks. After the 2012 season, he was rated the best power hitter in the Rockies system.
Kyle Parker moved up to double-A in 2013, and his contact issues resurfaced against tougher pitching, as he struck out 99 times in 528 PA with only 40 walks. Still, he put together a /.288/.345/.492 line with 23 home runs. The Rockies sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he’s showcasing his power. Parker has a .278/.320/.536 line in 97 plate appearances with four home runs. He’s struck out 21 times.
While he’s been situated in the corner outfield for most of his minor-league career, Parker is playing first base in the AFL. Going forward, he’ll probably play a little bit of both. He doesn’t have the speed or savvy to be a full-time outfielder, but for now, the organization wants him to try and retain some versatility.
Only 6′-0″ tall, Parker is shorter than your average first baseman. As you would expect from a former football player, he’s clearly spent some time in the weight room. He uses a leg-kick load and stays on his backside throughout his swing, giving him a lot of lift in his swing. His propensity to sit on fastballs is something to watch for as he faces more advanced pitchers who have the ability to pitch backwards.
At 25, Kyle Parker is not a spring chicken. He looks like a consistent power bat, making him a nice fit for Coors Field. However, his contact issues against more advanced pitching are a cause for concern. Betting on bat-first players with strikeout issues is tough, but Kyle Parker will get a chance to see how his power will play at the next level. I wouldn’t count on him being an everyday guy, though we’ll probably see him in the majors sometime in 2014.