Parnell Wants More Consistency

Bobby Parnell returned to Binghamton for the 2008 season after spending a little more than half of last season with club. Hopes were that learning the ropes of the Eastern League in 2007 would prepare him for a much stronger season in his second trip through the league, but that has not been the case so far this season.

Based on the way Bobby Parnell closed out March, you probably thought April was going to be a breeze.

At least statistically, the 23-year-old right-hander has actually struggled in his first five starts for the Double-A Binghamton Mets; surprising considering how strong an impression he made at the end of spring training in a spot start for the big league team.

On March 26, Parnell took the mound in place of Pedro Martinez against the Florida Marlins and was more than effective, striking out five and allowing just three hits over five shutout innings. It was the first start against big league competition of Parnell's career, and the kind of outing that does more for one's confidence than a box score can reflect.

"I went out there and had nothing to lose," Parnell says. "I pitched my game and I kind of surprised myself. It backed up what I was thinking the whole time, that I could pitch at that level, and I just got to trust myself and trust my stuff. Definitely, definitely a confidence-booster—big time."

It was the culmination of a spring in which Parnell got to learn from some of the Mets' best: Martinez, Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, John Maine.

"You don't really have to talk to anybody, you just follow [them]," Parnell says. "Those guys, you just try to take in what they work on and how they go about their business."

The luster of Parnell's results from his time in Port St. Lucie seems to have had little carryover effect. He is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in 22 2/3 innings this season, and has yet to go beyond five innings in a start.

Parnell became visibly frustrated in his last home outing against the Trenton Thunder on April 21. The B-Mets took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, and Parnell retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the fourth.

Four batters later, the game was tied.

Parnell surrendered a double, a homer, a triple, threw a wild pitch, and then gave up another homer in succession. He walked one more batter but finally got a fly out to end the inning. Understandably, his frustration became visible on the mound.

"I mean I've always been competitive, I wouldn't say I was emotional," Parnell says. "I would say I'm competitive on the mound. I like to get people out."

B-Mets manager Mako Oliveras, however, felt that Parnell might have lost his composure.

"Control your emotions, that's the key. Everybody talks about five tools. I say there are six," Oliveras says, pointing to his head to emphasize the importance of the mental side of the game. "You're a mechanic: you got a good wrench, good oil, but you don't know how to use them. Instead of Stanley wrenches, you could have K-Mart wrenches, but if you know how to use them ... the key to success in any business is controlling your emotions."

Without regard to Parnell's reactions, he and B-Mets pitching coach Ricky Bones both feel that, despite the numbers, he has not pitched badly.

"These guys are in a learning process," Bones said. "You know, day in and day out they're working on different things and trying to maintain what they're working to bring to the game ... I think at this level we're not concerned about the numbers. At this level it's a matter of execution, of learning and repeating of what they have to work on. Numbers sometimes are secondary."

"This is going to happen," Parnell says of his rough start. "This is going to even out throughout the year. I'm pitching ahead in the count early. The first two games I was walking way too many people, now the past two or three games I've turned my game around, throwing strikes ... I'm happy where I'm at, not worried at all."

Parnell walked two batters in his first outing and six in his second, but has allowed just one walk over his two most recent outings.

The most important development for Parnell in his professional career has been his changeup. He was drafted in the ninth round of the 2005 draft out of Charleston College and throws a low- to mid-90s fastball and a plus slider, but the changeup has been inconsistent.

Compared to last season, when Parnell was called up to Binghamton in June, Parnell feels the pitch has come along nicely.

"I'm always working on all my pitches, but my changeup's developed a lot," he says. "I'm just trying to get comfortable in situations, learning when I can throw it and when I can't throw it."

He worked on the pitch in the spring and actually changed his grip so that it has more sink and acts more deceptively.

"I throw a lot of four-seam fastballs and my changeup's like a two-seam fastball," he says. "We just twisted the ball around where it's a four-seam changeup and it's the same rotation as a fastball."

Parnell's final totals at Binghamton in 2007 weren't particularly impressive—a 5-5 record with a 4.77 ERA in 17 starts—and he was pretty confident that he would return to the B-Mets this season for that reason. He did not play winter ball after totaling over 140 innings, a career-high.

Double-A is the first level Parnell has really struggled: he was a Florida State League All-Star with St. Lucie last season, and an NY-Penn League All-Star with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2006.

But his plan to finally put up the kind of numbers he has in the past—and there probably isn't a more reasonable plan for someone in his situation, someone who has shown they are capable of performing at a very high level—is to remain steady.

"I want to get comfortable, show that I can pitch and be that pitcher," Parnell says. "I'm just waiting for everything to click."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nBased on the way Bobby Parnell closed out March, you probably thought April was going to be a breeze.
\r\n
\r\nAt least statistically, the 23-year-old right-hander has actually struggled in his first five starts for the Double-A Binghamton Mets; surprising considering how strong an impression he made at the end of spring training in a spot start for the big league team.
\r\n
\r\nOn March 26, Parnell took the mound in place of Pedro Martinez against the Florida Marlins and was more than effective, striking out five and allowing just three hits over five shutout innings. It was the first start against big league competition of Parnell's career, and the kind of outing that does more for one's confidence than a box score can reflect.
\r\n
\r\n\"I went out there and had nothing to lose,\" Parnell says. \"I pitched my game and I kind of surprised myself. It backed up what I was thinking the whole time, that I could pitch at that level, and I just got to trust myself and trust my stuff. Definitely, definitely a confidence-booster—big time.\"
\r\n
\r\nIt was the culmination of a spring in which Parnell got to learn from some of the Mets' best: Martinez, Billy Wagner, Aaron Heilman, John Maine.
\r\n
\r\n\"You don't really have to talk to anybody, you just follow [them],\" Parnell says. \"Those guys, you just try to take in what they work on and how they go about their business.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe luster of Parnell's results from his time in Port St. Lucie seems to have had little carryover effect. He is 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA in 22 2/3 innings this season, and has yet to go beyond five innings in a start.
\r\n
\r\nParnell became visibly frustrated in his last home outing against the Trenton Thunder on April 21. The B-Mets took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, and Parnell retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the fourth.
\r\n
\r\nFour batters later, the game was tied.
\r\n
\r\nParnell surrendered a double, a homer, a triple, threw a wild pitch, and then gave up another homer in succession. He walked one more batter but finally got a fly out to end the inning. Understandably, his frustration became visible on the mound.
\r\n
\r\n\"I mean I've always been competitive, I wouldn't say I was emotional,\" Parnell says. \"I would say I'm competitive on the mound. I like to get people out.\"
\r\n
\r\nB-Mets manager Mako Oliveras, however, felt that Parnell might have lost his composure.
\r\n
\r\n\"Control your emotions, that's the key. Everybody talks about five tools. I say there are six,\" Oliveras says, pointing to his head to emphasize the importance of the mental side of the game. \"You're a mechanic: you got a good wrench, good oil, but you don't know how to use them. Instead of Stanley wrenches, you could have K-Mart wrenches, but if you know how to use them ... the key to success in any business is controlling your emotions.\"
\r\n
\r\nWithout regard to Parnell's reactions, he and B-Mets pitching coach Ricky Bones both feel that, despite the numbers, he has not pitched badly.
\r\n
\r\n\"These guys are in a learning process,\" Bones said. \"You know, day in and day out they're working on different things and trying to maintain what they're working to bring to the game ... I think at this level we're not concerned about the numbers. At this level it's a matter of execution, of learning and repeating of what they have to work on. Numbers sometimes are secondary.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"This is going to happen,\" Parnell says of his rough start. \"This is going to even out throughout the year. I'm pitching ahead in the count early. The first two games I was walking way too many people, now the past two or three games I've turned my game around, throwing strikes ... I'm happy where I'm at, not worried at all.\"
\r\n
\r\nParnell walked two batters in his first outing and six in his second, but has allowed just one walk over his two most recent outings.
\r\n
\r\nThe most important development for Parnell in his professional career has been his changeup. He was drafted in the ninth round of the 2005 draft out of Charleston College and throws a low- to mid-90s fastball and a plus slider, but the changeup has been inconsistent.
\r\n
\r\nCompared to last season, when Parnell was called up to Binghamton in June, Parnell feels the pitch has come along nicely.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm always working on all my pitches, but my changeup's developed a lot,\" he says. \"I'm just trying to get comfortable in situations, learning when I can throw it and when I can't throw it.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe worked on the pitch in the spring and actually changed his grip so that it has more sink and acts more deceptively.
\r\n
\r\n\"I throw a lot of four-seam fastballs and my changeup's like a two-seam fastball,\" he says. \"We just twisted the ball around where it's a four-seam changeup and it's the same rotation as a fastball.\"
\r\n
\r\nParnell's final totals at Binghamton in 2007 weren't particularly impressive—a 5-5 record with a 4.77 ERA in 17 starts—and he was pretty confident that he would return to the B-Mets this season for that reason. He did not play winter ball after totaling over 140 innings, a career-high.
\r\n
\r\nDouble-A is the first level Parnell has really struggled: he was a Florida State League All-Star with St. Lucie last season, and an NY-Penn League All-Star with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2006.
\r\n
\r\nBut his plan to finally put up the kind of numbers he has in the past—and there probably isn't a more reasonable plan for someone in his situation, someone who has shown they are capable of performing at a very high level—is to remain steady.
\r\n
\r\n\"I want to get comfortable, show that I can pitch and be that pitcher,\" Parnell says. \"I'm just waiting for everything to click.\"
\r\n
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