Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’

Letting It Ride All the Way from the Bronx

Despite growing up across from the basketball courts, it was
always baseball for Pete.  As a 10-year
old, he’d travel 40 minutes to Brooklyn and over an hour to Long
Island to play competitive baseball.  As a 12-year old, he had “an amazing
experience” with a New York City All-Star Team playing 2 weeks of baseball in Tokyo.  “We spent 4 days with a host family and the
first day, they tried to make a traditional American breakfast,” Pete told me,
“but on the second day, it was back to rice.” 
He was also quick to recall a trip to an open-air market that sold,
among other things, “huge crab legs…I devoured that.”  One of his teammates on that All-Star Team
was Mike Baxter – born 2 days after Pete – and now playing in AAA for the San
Diego Padres. 

It wasn’t until his junior year at Cardinal Spellman
High School that Parise
realized that his talents could lead to a baseball career.  He was 16 when the first pro scout came to
one of his games.  It was the late Buddy
Paine, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer less than a year ago.  Buddy was the first to tell Parise that his
baseball career would be made on the pitcher’s mound, not in the outfield or
behind the plate as a catcher.  Pete told
him that he appreciated the advice, but he was a hitter.  “I guess he was right,” he says now with a
laugh. 

The college recruiting process was as painless and
stress-free as everything else seems to be for Pete.  “I wanted to go to Fordham, but I walked to my recruiting visit and my Dad
told me to get out of the city.”  He
could have gone to St. Johns
or Stony Brook, but it was his first visit that ultimately could have been his
last.  “Pittsburgh is a great sports town, great
people, great fans – something I wanted to be a part of.”  He wanted to catch, that’s what he loved to
do, but there was a senior ahead of him, so when Head Coach Joe Jordano asked
him if could play the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup, Pete thought to
himself “yeah, that’s not that tough” – but out loud was happy to say “yes.” 

From his first series down at the University of New Orleans
through the end of his college career, he made the outfield look pretty easy
while doing the same at the plate becoming the school’s all-time hits
leader.  But pro scouts were still
convinced his future was as a pitcher. 
On April 13th, 2007 – in front of a hometown New York crowd at St. Johns
– with Pitt holding a 10-9 lead with the bases loaded and 1 out in the bottom
of the 9th, Coach Jordano threw Parise right into the fire.  The 6’1″ righthander walked to the mound from
his place in right field and started throwing 90-92 mph on his fastball and
mixed in a slider that he learned in Little League – the same slider he uses
now one step away from the majors.  That
combination worked as he struck out the first batter he faced for the second
out.  Now with 2 outs and the tying run
on 3rd, “the kid put down a swinging bunt in between the mound and
first – I picked it up, and it was a bang-bang play that won us the game,” Pete
said as recapped his first collegiate save. 

Draft day came and went for Parise, and after not hearing
his name called, he was packed up and ready to go to Florida where his parents had moved.  That’s when he did get his name called – by
the Slippery Rock Sliders of the Frontier League.  Parise upped his workouts, starting to feel
his arm loosen by the day and was hitting 94 on the radar gun, working in that
slider and a new 2-seamer and was “loving throwing to wood bats.”  Life in the Frontier League didn’t last
long.  While on the road in Evansville, Indiana
– Manager Greg Jelks, a career minor leaguer, called Parise to tell him that
the Cardinals wanted to sign him.  Done
deal.

Pete Parise isn’t a high-energy reliever.  He’s serious, but remains even-keel.  “Whatever happens, happens.  I can’t beat myself up – no reason to put
extra pressure on myself, just let it ride,” he says.  Parise’s never been one to agonize over game
tape, but found himself spending a lot of time with pitching coach Ace Adams at
the start of the 2008 season at Quad Cities. 
Adams made the necessary mechanical adjustments for Parise to add late
movement to his pitches and most importantly, was patient with his student as
Pete got used to the new style and was trying things out with the game on the
line.  13 saves and a 2.23 ERA later and
the student moved on to the Florida State League. 

“The biggest jump was to AAA because the hitters are just
better,” Pete told me over the phone from his hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  “They’re actually kind of annoying because
they’re too patient at the plate.”  It
may be his most challenging level of organized ball, but he’s treating the
opponent the same way he has since signing. 
In 11 appearances spanning 11 innings, he’s 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA while
getting ground ball out after ground ball out and holding the opposition to a
.244 batting average.  After his first
Winter Ball experience in Columbia
this past offseason, he came into spring training feeling great and is enjoying
this rise up through the Cardinals system.

Not once in our conversation did we talk about what it would
be like to play in the majors, but he’s not shy asking teammates Jess Todd and
Clayton Mortensen for their advice on how to get his hands on the big league
spread.  For now, he’s sampling the grub
down South eating catfish and gumbo for the first time and putting down a ½
rack of ribs from Blue City Café.  “We
were in New Orleans
yesterday (6/30) and there was a big bag of crawfish in the clubhouse.  I crushed that.”

The way Pete’s going, he’s going to be crushing the
post-game meal at Busch Stadium sooner than anyone expected – even Buddy Paine.

Stay up to date on Pete Parise by going to his player page –
http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=P&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=520868

Other notes:  Pete has
lived with Brett Wallace for 2 years and says “he’s legit” – as if Cardinals
fans needed to hear any more reassurance about their first round pick from
2008.  Also, the Memphis Grizzlies
drafted Parise’s friend from college – Sam Young – who threw out the first
pitch at the Memphis Redbirds game on 6/26 – http://memphis.redbirds.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090630&content_id=5617874&vkey=news_t235&fext=.jsp&sid=t235

I’m off to St.
Louis on Thursday for the All-Star Game festivities
and will be there through the 15th – then back in the MLB.com
studios on the 17th. 

2 quotes for you since it’s been a while since the last post

“A hot dog at the ball game beats roast beef at the
Ritz.” – Humphrey Bogart  

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what people say. I
just watch what they do.” – Andrew Carnegie

Ready for the 2009 MLB Draft

I’ve been preparing for our coverage of the MLB Draft: June 9-11 – so I wanted to take you inside my books and share some research with you.

 

Texas Rangers:  Over the past 3 years, 8 of their first 12 picks have been pitchers.  In 2007 – the club had 5 first round picks and drafted 4 pitchers including Tommy Hunter.  8 players taken by the Rangers in the past 5 years have made it to the show.  Travis Metcalf was selected 321st overall – his first MLB hit was a home run off of Tom Gorzellany.

 

New York Yankees:  In the 2005 draft – one of the best classes in history – the Yankees chose Carl Henry at #17 – ahead of Red Sox draftees Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz, and Michael Bowden – all of whom have played in the majors.  Henry is out of baseball. 

 

Florida Marlins: 9 draft picks over the past 5 years have made it to the majors.  The 2005 draft featured 5 first round picks and the organization chose 5 pitchers.  Chris Volstad led that group (#16) – Ryan Tucker pitched in 13 games for Florida in 2008.  Gaby Sanchez went in the 4th round and earned a September call-up last season. 

 

Cleveland Indians: Expect this organization to change their draft philosophy and take a risk on some power armed high school kids with bigger upside than some college pitchers – also, a need for speed at the big league level should lead them to not just focus on power bats in the draft.  The Indians did draft Tim Lincecum in the 42nd round of the 2005.  That was the year the club also drafted Trevor Crowe in the first round and Jensen Lewis (David Price’s college roommate at Vanderbilt) in the 3rd round.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks: The club has 7 of the Draft’s first 66 picks.  For reference: The Brewers had 6 of the first 62 picks last year.  The Moneyball draft of 2002 for the A’s consisted of 8 selections in the first 68 spots which produced Nick Swisher (#16), Joe Blanton (#24), and Mark Teahen (#39).  Arizona currently has 4 of their top picks on their roster: Daniel Schlereth (2008 – was called up as I’m typing) Scherzer (2006), Upton (2005), Drew (2004).  Of 15 of their last first and second round picks, 12 have been pitchers and 10 of those were college arms. 

 

St. Louis Cardinals: 8 of their picks from the 2004-2006 drafts have played in the bigs.

 

New York Mets:  Their top picks between 2000 and 2004 are no longer with the organization, but have all played in the majors.  Billy Traber – part of the Roberto Alomar deal.  Aaron Heilman – part of JJ Putz trade.  Scott Kazmir (Victor Zambrano) – Lastings Milledge: traded in 2007.  Phillip Humber – involved in the deal for Johan Santana.

 

Philadelphia Phillies: Top pick from 1990-2004, overall pick is in parentheses, players who made it to the bigs are in bold.

Mike Lieberthal (3) – Tyler Green (10) – Chad McConnell (13 – OF, Creighton University) – Wayne Gomes (13) – Carlton Loewer (23) – Reggie Taylor (14) – Adam Eaton (11) – JD Drew (2) – Pat Burrell (1) – Brett Myers (12) – Chase Utley (15) – Gavin Floyd (4) – Cole Hamels (17) – Tim Moss (85 – no 1st or 2nd round pick) – Greg Golson (21)

 

Make sure to check out the MLB.com Draft page – and the coverage on MLB Network and MLB.com – I’ll be hosting the post-draft show LIVE on Day 1 with Jonathan Mayo (our Mel Kiper, just without hair) – and will be hosting Day 3 of the draft (1130am-330pm) http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2009/reports.jsp

 

Video Draft links – Top 5 Outfielders:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4768703

Top 5 College Pitchers:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4757177

Top 5 Prep Pitchers:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4757153

Top 5 Corner Infielders:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=4736997

 

 “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”- Benjamin Disraeli (former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)