Q&A with Kingsport Infielder Michael Parker

Drafted in the 24th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, the 22-year-old George Washington University alum has started his career in fine fashion. Parker sat down with Inside Pitch to discuss his game, the differences between college and proball, and much more.

Inside Pitch Magazine: What do you think of your season to date?

Michael Parker: I'm having a great time, but it's a development process. I think I'm learning things in preparation to move up to the next level and eventually the New York Mets.

Inside Pitch: What did it feel like being drafted by an organization like the Mets?

Parker: It was really exciting because they are a great organization with a tradition of winning, at least in recent years, and it seems like they'll be in contention to win the World Series in years to come. It's just a great team to be associated with.

Inside Pitch: For our readers who do not know much about you, tell us what type of player you are, and how you see yourself fitting in.

Parker: I'm an infielder and I can play anywhere. I played shortstop in college, but I can also play second base and third base. So far this year, I've seen a lot of time at second base and it seems like I'll be there to stay for the meantime. In terms of where I fit in, only time will tell. Obviously the Mets' left side of the infield is really young and really good, so we'll see. All I can do for now is keeping playing my game, play it well and hope things work out.

Inside Pitch: Coming into the season, what did you think was the strongest part of your game? What did you think could have used more improvement?

Parker: There are always things I need to improve on, and it's that way for any guy in baseball, there is always room to improve. But, I think my biggest weakness is just that I haven't had the at-bats. We all need them, the playing time, the experience. It's all about getting used to the speed of the game which will increase at each level. I think that will all come with the reps I get.

Inside Pitch: What was the adjustment to pro ball like for you?

Parker: Baseball is baseball. We just play the game; try to win every game out. I think at any level, it's still baseball it's basically the same thing. But, the more I mature as a player easier I think moving up levels will be. There was that initial change to playing everyday and with the professional mindset which I think was the biggest difference.

Inside Pitch: What kind of differences do you see in the game? Whether it is at the plate or in the field.

Parker: Obviously minor league ball is much different than college ball in the sense that, here at the pro level, they were preparing us to become big leaguers. In college, the sole purpose was winning. The purpose was playing as a team, playing with each other and trying to win every time we went out there. The focus in the minors is pure development. That's the biggest difference.

Inside Pitch: What has been the most positive part of your game this season so far?

Parker: My strongest point has been my ability to go out everyday and play hard and get my at-bats in, get my reps in practice and pre-game, and play well. Also, I think my strength this year has been staying consistent with my hitting. I'm not hitting for a lot of power, but I'm getting my share of knocks, putting the ball in play, and getting on base. I think if I can keep doing that, I'll be ok.

Inside Pitch: I've talked to other recent draftees who have said that playing through even slight injuries has been one of the toughest parts of the game for them. Do you feel the same?

Parker: I think baseball is a game that is not a sprint, it's a marathon. In the minors we play a full season of 140-plus games. In college, between winter ball, the season and summer ball, I probably played 120 games. I don't think that makes such a difference because I've played that much before. I could understand it affecting a kid out of high school who only played 30 games in a season and then was thrown into a 140-game schedule. But I'm a college guy, who played four years in-season plus those other season, I played everyday. I think that's what baseball is about, it's a sport we play everyday.

Inside Pitch: As a four-year player, do you think that has made you better prepared for your first year in minor league baseball? Has it suited you better for the minor league game?

Parker: I think it comes down to that I'm more mature physically and as a baseball player, emotionally, mentally everything. Does it suit me better? I don't think it serves me any better except for some intangibles. Everyone in minor league baseball, I would assume, their goal is to play big league baseball. It's a development process for everyone and we all go through the same work. Obviously the goal is to become a Major League player and only a small percentage gets there.

Inside Pitch: Getting back on the field, what kind of adjustments, if any, did you have to make at the plate to this new level of pitching?

Parker: I have a pretty consistent approach that I think works. I haven't really made any major changes. I still need to just go out there and play hard. Some balls will fall, some won't. That's the nature of the game.

Inside Pitch: Have the coaches worked on anything with you specifically?

Parker: As of yet, they have not really. They pretty much let me play like I know how. It's just a matter of getting my time in and becoming a more grown baseball player. It's about seeing more pitches, taking more swings and getting more opportunities. You see it in the big leagues. The young guys do not have that consistent approach that the veterans do.

Inside Pitch: Explain what you are like defensively. How is your arm? Your range? What is your game like with the glove?

Parker: As an infielder, my job is to catch the ball, throw guys out and turn double plays. My strengths are I can go get a ball and turn the double play well. The speed in turning a double play I think is big for guys at this level. I really think it's a simple game when you break it down.

Inside Pitch: As you previous mentioned, you have seen time at all infield positions. I take it to mean you are comfortable anywhere in the infield?

Parker: I think it shows that I have some real versatility. I really think it's a great plus that I hold and what could set me apart from some other guys, being that I can play second, short or third base.

Inside Pitch: So looking forward to the rest of the summer, what is it you hope to accomplish? Where would you like to see your game end up after your rookie season?

Parker: I want to get done what everyone else does – to keep developing and keep moving up levels. Playing for the big club is the ultimate goal, but as a rookie I want to go out, have consistently, show my game to the coaches, and see where that takes me.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: What do you think of your season to date?
\r\n
\r\nMichael Parker: I'm having a great time, but it's a development process. I think I'm learning things in preparation to move up to the next level and eventually the New York Mets.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What did it feel like being drafted by an organization like the Mets?
\r\n
\r\nParker: It was really exciting because they are a great organization with a tradition of winning, at least in recent years, and it seems like they'll be in contention to win the World Series in years to come. It's just a great team to be associated with.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: For our readers who do not know much about you, tell us what type of player you are, and how you see yourself fitting in.
\r\n
\r\nParker: I'm an infielder and I can play anywhere. I played shortstop in college, but I can also play second base and third base. So far this year, I've seen a lot of time at second base and it seems like I'll be there to stay for the meantime. In terms of where I fit in, only time will tell. Obviously the Mets' left side of the infield is really young and really good, so we'll see. All I can do for now is keeping playing my game, play it well and hope things work out.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Coming into the season, what did you think was the strongest part of your game? What did you think could have used more improvement?
\r\n
\r\nParker: There are always things I need to improve on, and it's that way for any guy in baseball, there is always room to improve. But, I think my biggest weakness is just that I haven't had the at-bats. We all need them, the playing time, the experience. It's all about getting used to the speed of the game which will increase at each level. I think that will all come with the reps I get.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What was the adjustment to pro ball like for you?
\r\n
\r\nParker: Baseball is baseball. We just play the game; try to win every game out. I think at any level, it's still baseball it's basically the same thing. But, the more I mature as a player easier I think moving up levels will be. There was that initial change to playing everyday and with the professional mindset which I think was the biggest difference.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What kind of differences do you see in the game? Whether it is at the plate or in the field.
\r\n
\r\nParker: Obviously minor league ball is much different than college ball in the sense that, here at the pro level, they were preparing us to become big leaguers. In college, the sole purpose was winning. The purpose was playing as a team, playing with each other and trying to win every time we went out there. The focus in the minors is pure development. That's the biggest difference.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What has been the most positive part of your game this season so far?
\r\n
\r\nParker: My strongest point has been my ability to go out everyday and play hard and get my at-bats in, get my reps in practice and pre-game, and play well. Also, I think my strength this year has been staying consistent with my hitting. I'm not hitting for a lot of power, but I'm getting my share of knocks, putting the ball in play, and getting on base. I think if I can keep doing that, I'll be ok.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: I've talked to other recent draftees who have said that playing through even slight injuries has been one of the toughest parts of the game for them. Do you feel the same?
\r\n
\r\nParker: I think baseball is a game that is not a sprint, it's a marathon. In the minors we play a full season of 140-plus games. In college, between winter ball, the season and summer ball, I probably played 120 games. I don't think that makes such a difference because I've played that much before. I could understand it affecting a kid out of high school who only played 30 games in a season and then was thrown into a 140-game schedule. But I'm a college guy, who played four years in-season plus those other season, I played everyday. I think that's what baseball is about, it's a sport we play everyday.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: As a four-year player, do you think that has made you better prepared for your first year in minor league baseball? Has it suited you better for the minor league game?
\r\n
\r\nParker: I think it comes down to that I'm more mature physically and as a baseball player, emotionally, mentally everything. Does it suit me better? I don't think it serves me any better except for some intangibles. Everyone in minor league baseball, I would assume, their goal is to play big league baseball. It's a development process for everyone and we all go through the same work. Obviously the goal is to become a Major League player and only a small percentage gets there.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Getting back on the field, what kind of adjustments, if any, did you have to make at the plate to this new level of pitching?
\r\n
\r\nParker: I have a pretty consistent approach that I think works. I haven't really made any major changes. I still need to just go out there and play hard. Some balls will fall, some won't. That's the nature of the game.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Have the coaches worked on anything with you specifically?
\r\n
\r\nParker: As of yet, they have not really. They pretty much let me play like I know how. It's just a matter of getting my time in and becoming a more grown baseball player. It's about seeing more pitches, taking more swings and getting more opportunities. You see it in the big leagues. The young guys do not have that consistent approach that the veterans do.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Explain what you are like defensively. How is your arm? Your range? What is your game like with the glove?
\r\n
\r\nParker: As an infielder, my job is to catch the ball, throw guys out and turn double plays. My strengths are I can go get a ball and turn the double play well. The speed in turning a double play I think is big for guys at this level. I really think it's a simple game when you break it down.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: As you previous mentioned, you have seen time at all infield positions. I take it to mean you are comfortable anywhere in the infield?
\r\n
\r\nParker: I think it shows that I have some real versatility. I really think it's a great plus that I hold and what could set me apart from some other guys, being that I can play second, short or third base.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: So looking forward to the rest of the summer, what is it you hope to accomplish? Where would you like to see your game end up after your rookie season?
\r\n
\r\nParker: I want to get done what everyone else does – to keep developing and keep moving up levels. Playing for the big club is the ultimate goal, but as a rookie I want to go out, have consistently, show my game to the coaches, and see where that takes me.
\r\n
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