POSITION: Right-handed starting pitcher
BORN ON: February 27, 1986
AGE: will be 22 this season
BORN IN: Albuquerque, New Mexico
LIVES IN: Albuquerque, New Mexico
WEIGHT: 185 pounds
SCHOOL: La Cueva High School
ACQUIRED: Selected by the Braves in the fourth round of the June 2004 draft
SIGNED BY: Danny Bates
STATISTICSClick here for Parr's 2007 stats
SCOUTING REPORTJames Parr was returned back to Myrtle Beach to start last season, mainly due to the numbers crunch at Double-A. He had a decent spring training, but the Braves kept him in High-A to start the season in hopes he would not be there long.
Well, Parr forced the Braves hands a bit. He had a rough start in April, posting a 4.60 ERA. But then in May Parr took off with a 2.25 ERA in four starts. His last start was a nine-inning complete game shutout (with no walks and 12 strikeouts), which is very unusual in the Braves' system. After that game Parr was sent to Double-A.
Parr has always had great control, and his six walks in eight games in Myrtle Beach to start the season just re-affirmed that trait. When he got to Double-A, there was some inconsistency, which was not a complete surprise. Inconsistency is usually what makes minor leaguers minor leaguers, and when they get over that is when they usually make it to the big leagues.
Parr finished with 18 games in Double-A, 16 starts. He had a 4.59 ERA, mainly due to a rough stretch in the middle of the season. But in between that six-game stretch was a seven-shutout inning performance. Parr had several games like that. In fact, Parr had three seven-inning games (2-0, 0.86 ERA) and six six-inning games (2-2, 3.50 ERA).
But late last season Parr ran out of gas, so he's got to work more on getting through a full season. He had one of those seven-inning games in late August, but there was clear fatigue late in the year. Parr finished with a combined 137.2 innings, the most in one season in his career.
Overall, Parr had 112 strikeouts, also the most in his three-plus year career. His 31 walks in 26 games was one of the best ratios in the system.
At times the Braves have wondered if Parr's fastball, usually in the 88-90 mph range, was good enough for him to be a serious prospect. But he's proved that he has decent command with that fastball, which he'll need if he gets away with not having a fastball that is above average.
Parr's curveball is pretty good. It got a bit loopy late last season when he ran out of gas, but it's a decent pitch. Parr's change of pace can be a pretty good pitch as well.
Scouts and coaches are somewhat split on Parr. There are some that believe he still has a chance to make it, and that since he's always been so young patience is required. Remember, Parr was 21 in AA last season and will spend all of 2008 at 22 years old. So that's still a challenge for someone that age to be in that tough Southern League.
Others are concerned that the stuff is not electric enough for Parr to ever be more than he is right now. There is nothing above average or striking in his repertoire. But he's a tremendous competitor. Parr is a perfectionist that really takes pride in his ability to get people out, despite not having overpowering stuff. Will that tenacity get him to the next level?
2008 OUTLOOKJames Parr will return to Double-A and be in the Mississippi rotation. Like most pitchers in AA, Parr's season will be important. He needs this full year in AA and to make 28 starts and get 170 innings. Then the Braves are definitely going to know what they have here. Parr needs to get off to a good start and just take off.
Parr needs to have the type of season that will separate him from others, and there's no better place to do that than in Double-A. The Braves are very curious how he'll do and whether or not he will have a breakout campaign. Some believe he will, while others aren't so sure. So it's up to Parr to answer that question.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINKSClick here for Parr's 2007 Player Profile
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.