David Lennon of Newsday reports that Parnell has a great chance to get a bullpen spot.
Parnell is no fun to face, and he’s about to become even more dangerous with the addition of a split-fingered fastball. Pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested that he use these next six weeks to revive his splitter, which Parnell used in college, and he plans to have a morning tutorial Saturday with J.J. Putz, who throws a nasty one.
“He’s going to lend a helping hand with it,” Parnell said.
The Mets already consider Parnell a serious threat to win a bullpen spot, and if he starts throwing a splitter like Putz’s, it’s going to be difficult to keep him down at Triple-A Buffalo.
At 24, Parnell is a rare commodity. His fastball is a consistent 96-97 mph – he’s reached 99 – and he’s combined that with a slider and improving changeup. Add the splitter, and Parnell will get more swings and misses as it dives into the dirt.
“With that power fastball at the top of the zone,” Warthen said, “we wanted him to have another look with another strikeout pitch.”
About a year ago at this time, Baseball America wrote this about Parnell:
People look at the right-hander and see his power arsenal — fastball/slider — and the fact that his third pitch, a changeup, is behind the other two and say he belongs in the bullpen. He throws in the low- to mid-90s and can touch 97 mph, and there’s little doubt that in a short relief role, he’d be in the upper-90s consistently. But here’s the thing. Parnell can maintain his velocity deep into games and that’s something that isn’t easily found. So the Mets are inclined to leave him in a rotation, at least for now, so he can continue to work on all of his pitches and stay in the same routine. He’ll do that in Binghamton, and perhaps after this year, if the changeup doesn’t come around, a switch will be made
He ended up having a mediocre season in 2008…
The right-hander spent most of the season with Binghamton and was an Eastern League All-Star, going 10-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 24 starts. Five outings in New Orleans led to a 6.64 ERA, and he was pressed into bullpen service with the Mets. With the exception of one outing, he was generally effective.
A few times this offseason, Omar Minaya said that he always prefers to have a rookie on the team because he said it was good for the “chemistry and balance” in the clubhouse.
It may well be, that we’ll see Niese starting in AAA and Parnell heading up north come April, but it’s still too early to predict. It’s something to keep an eye on though.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen is having Parnell revive his splitter, and J.J. Putz, who throws a nasty one will be giving Parnell some tutoring in the art of being bad-ass wicked.