Parker Taking Full Advantage Of Opportunity

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - After an impressive three-year run through the Mountain West Conference as a standout third baseman from Brigham Young, Stephen Parker didn't have much left to prove at the collegiate level. That's why it was such an easy decision for him to sign quickly when Oakland made him its fifth-round selection.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound third baseman capped off his college career by hitting .361 with nine homers and 34 RBIs, while starting all 53 games as a junior. He never hit lower than .340 during his three seasons in Provo.

It was enough for the A's to make him the 153rd player selected in June's amateur draft.

"They had an offer that was perfect for me," said Stephen Parker, one of two BYU players selected by the A's.

"I was just excited to sign and get on with playing. I wasn't worried about holding out on anything. I was anxious to start my career."

June was a stressful period for Parker, who was winding down his junior season and preparing for the MWC tournament.

"You're trying to juggle a college season while worrying about the draft," he said.

"I had to stay on top of my college ball. The A's were great and came to talk to me at our conference tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. They said they were real interested, but at the same time didn't want to put any pressure on me."

All of that pressure was gone when Parker heard his name called in the fifth round. Shortly after his junior season concluded, Parker signed his first professional contract.

"After I got drafted, I signed the paperwork and within the next two days was down in Arizona. I was there for a few days, getting in shape and getting a few at-bats in," Parker said.

After a quick stop in the Arizona rookie league, the A's fast-tracked the 21-year old to full-season Kane County where he's getting extensive playing time with three Cougars infielders on the disabled list. Parker's shift over to first base has opened up playing time for fellow '09 draftee Michael Spina to play exclusively at his natural position at third.

Although a slow start plagued him early in the Midwest League, Parker has hit safely in seven of his past nine games.

He admits to struggling with the change to wooden bats, and a slight change in the competition. But every day at-bats in the Cougars lineup have helped him battle through it.

"Maybe just the everyday use of the wooden bat" is the biggest adjustment," says Parker.

"It's a different feel, coming straight out of a college season with the metal bat. I have made some changes with that. I played in summer leagues before with wood bats, but it's just adjusting to the every day use of it now."

The earlier the better, says Parker, who is 131 at-bats into his professional career while many other fellow draftees have yet to sign on the dotted line.

"I think they have some faith in some of our new guys, me and Spina being two of them," Parker said.

"It was a good opportunity for he and I to jump right into full-season A ball. I think it will work out to our benefit. And just to be in the lineup every day is all I can ask for. I'm happy to move over to a different spot to get at-bats. It's been great for both of us."

And it's a move that could pay off with a 2010 start in the Class-A advanced Stockton.

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