Last year, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected then 18-year old Jarrod Parker 9th overall in the June Amateur draft, and he finally signed with the club about an hour before the official August 15th deadline. Jarrod is Justin Parker's younger brother by almost two years.
Justin is a hard-hitting shortstop, having hit .395 and slugged .644 this year at Wright State University. He has stolen 24 bases in 30 attempts over his three-year career there, and his fielding percentage improved by 30 percentage points between his sophomore and junior seasons.
FutureBacks: On draft day, were you hoping that the Diamondbacks would select you so that you could have the chance to play behind your brother?
Justin Parker: I was hoping any team would take me, to be honest with you, but if I had to tell you one team I wanted to play for more than any other, it would be the Diamondbacks. They're a classy organization, they've done a great job with my brother, and I'm a big fan. So I'm real happy!
FB: Now did you go to Norwell high school as well, and did you and Justin get to play together for a year?
JP: Actually, we played together for two years, but I went to Wayne high school. After I graduated, Jarrod transferred down to Norwell.
FB: So if he throws you his best fastball, can you hit it?
JP: [Laughs] I don't know. Hopefully!
FB: Do you guys have the same agent as well?
JP: Yes sir
FB: Does that mean we can expect another last-minute signing?
JP: No, no, no. I'm going to be on the field the first day for sure. I'm ready to play.
FB: Do you take more pride in your offense or your defense?
JP: Actually, I would say my defense. Offense is something that came a little more natural to me. Being a Midwest kid, you could always [practice hitting] inside; it's a little harder to get out on the field and really work on your defense. So I would say I take a little more pride in, and have worked a little harder on, my defense.
FB: Would you say that your range or your arm is your better asset on defense?
JP: I would say my arm.
FB: Have you played any positions besides shortstop?
JP: Yeah, third base, actually. I played third base all fall at Wright State, thinking that was where I was going to be this year. It turned out the guy that was slated for shortstop just wasn't performing real well, so I slid back over to short. I played third quite a bit in the summer of my freshman year, so I've split time between short and third.
FB: Are you more comfortable with one or the other?
JP: I would say shortstop, but it doesn't really matter a whole lot to me.
FB: I noticed that your stolen base percentage was really good, but that you didn't actually steal many bases. Are you a pretty fast guy?
JP: The way our offense was set up, and the whole philosophy of our league, is more of a station-to-station approach. I feel like I could have stolen a lot more bases, but that really wasn't our philosophy. I definitely consider myself as having above-average speed, and I think I can steal bases, but I wasn't going to take the bat out of somebody else's hands. I trust the guys behind us in our lineup 100 percent.
FB: Do you anticipate a big shock transitioning from aluminum to wood bats?
JP: No, not at all. The only time I swing aluminum bats is during the game, and in college games, in BP prior to the game. Any other time, batting practice, practice, workouts - I'm swinging wood. Actually, I'm headed up to the field right now to get some batting practice in tonight, and I'm going to be swinging wood, obviously. So no, I don't anticipate there being any surprise in the transition; I'm pretty familiar with it.
FB: Are you a pull hitter or a spray hitter?
JP: I have a little more pull power than I have power to the opposite field, but I can drive balls to all fields.
FB: I know you're already a pretty big guy. Do you expect to put even more muscle on your frame as you get older?
JP: Oh yeah. Obviously, I'm working hard now, but I really don't put limits on myself as far as that goes. I'm sure I'm going to get in with the Diamondbacks, and they're going to have a great strength and conditioning program, and I see myself getting a lot stronger.
FB: So what would be your number one goal entering your professional career?
JP: You know, just being consistent. I don't really have any specific goals. To be honest, right now I just can't wait to get back out on the diamond. I'm getting a little anxious...
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