Cards Arizona Fall League Series: Mike Parisi

A talk with right-hander Mike Parisi, returning from Tommy John surgery and pitching for his Cardinals future in Arizona.

Mike Parisi's late-season comeback from Tommy John surgery continues as the right-hander is pitching for the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League. The St. Louis Cardinals prospect is one of the oldest players in the league at 26, and has past major league experience, something most of the AFL participants are still gunning for.

Parisi's 2009 return began in the Gulf Coast League Cardinals and continued with Palm Beach (A-Advanced) for a total of just five games. He did not make it back to Triple-A Memphis, let alone St. Louis but instead is getting his innings in Arizona this fall.

In the AFL, Parisi finished his campaign on Monday with five innings of one-run ball on three hits in an economical 50 pitches. Overall, he registered a 4.44 ERA in seven outings, including six starts. Parisi struck out 15 and walked six in 26 1/3 innings. Opposing hitters batted .257 against him.

Despite his history, Parisi currently has no spot on the organization's 40-man roster, having been removed shortly after his August 2008 surgery. As such, he will be eligible for December's Rule 5 draft if not re-added. Parisi is very aware of this issue, but did his best to not let it affect his play.

If the Cardinals feel his game is back, he will be ready to compete for a spot at the back of the Major League rotation in 2010. If not, he has shown other organizations what he can do. Though he prefers to remain a Cardinal, Parisi understands the score.

Among those checking out Parisi's mound work in Arizona was Cardinals Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow. Like Parisi, Luhnow knows the ninth-round draftee in 2004 has been pitching for his future – whether in his system or elsewhere.

"We have Mike Parisi who is going out there trying out his new pitch," Luhnow said. "That is what this league is all about. Of course there are a lot of scouts out there. Organizations are evaluating their players, trying to figure out who to put on the roster."

Along with a new elbow ligament, Parisi has that new pitch. I asked Luhnow if it is a cutter.

"It is. He still has the curveball and the fastball," the farm director said. "This cut fastball is something that he has found to be an effective weapon. He has tried it out here and it seems to be working pretty well. It is really effective against left-handed hitters and it comes in on them. It seems to be working pretty well. Hopefully it is a pitch he will mix in next year and have success with."

Exclusive for Cardinal Nation subscribers: In an audio interview, Parisi discusses his injury, rehab, the roster/Rule 5 issue, his AFL to-date and more.


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As every year, The Cardinal Nation,, is your leader in independent first-hand reporting on and from the Arizona Fall League. Keep checking back for daily for new reports on the Cardinals prospects playing for the Surprise Rafters this fall.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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