Mets Spring Training Question 17: Bobby Parnell
With 17 days until pitchers and Molinas report, question #17 for Mets spring training is this: will Bobby Parnell show any sign of taking a step forward in 2012?
Back in 2009, Parnell was an exciting, young flamethrower seemingly destined to be the closer-in-waiting, taking over ninth innings for the Mets after Francisco Rodriguez finished collecting his pot of gold. But the best laid plans of mice, men, and young flamethrowers often fall astray.
We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from Parnell, but those were intertwined with maddening inconsistency. He can reach triple digits with his fastball, but it’s as straight as an arrow and often left high in the zone. Similarly, his slider has at times looked devastating, but Parnell has yet to master it; for every time he drops it over the outside corner for a swinging strike, five times he’ll bury it in the dirt or leave it flat and floating over the heart of the plate with a “hit me” label. Last year he toyed with a change-up/forkball with mixed results. So what will be his focus this spring training? Will he scrap the slider, and continue developing the change? Or will he work on both? If he does work on two secondary pitches, is six weeks enough time to get handle on either, or is he better off concentrating on one?
Beyond developing secondary stuff, there are questions about his make-up, and whether he can handle the pressure of late-inning situations. Is that something that can be improved? If so, how? More mentoring from a veteran?
For those not counting, Parnell enters his fourth MLB season, and is now age 27, turning 28 in early September. At this point in his career, the word “potential” may or may not apply any more. Sure, there is the theory that hard-throwing pitchers take a little longer to mature, but is there any hard evidence supporting it? Aren’t we still waiting for Jorge Julio, Joselo Diaz, and Marcos Carvajal to find the plate? Did Matt Lindstrom ever really turn into what he was supposed to?
What’s your thought? What can Bobby Parnell do this spring to make you believe he’s ready to step forward as a Major League pitcher? Post in the comments.