|David Parkinson, image- Jay Floys|
The Virginia native was a 12th round draft pick out of the University of Mississippi by the Phillies last year.
Recently, I spoke with Parkinson about his wonderful results this year, lessons from his pitching coach Brad Bergesen, his game plan on the mound, meeting a big leaguer while competing in Little League and plenty more.
Read ahead for that complete interview...
-Your numbers, the whole pitching staff's numbers, have been remarkable. Almost disgusting. Just an impressive season so far. Talk about your efforts so far this season.
I think us, collectively as a staff, are just controlling the games. A small thing that "Bergy" teaches, our pitching coach, is just controlling what you can control. I think every single one of our starters have done that. Yeah, we've had some bad games, but that happens. You just keep going, just keep doing what can do.
-Ten weeks or so into the season, how do your thoughts compare now against how you anticipated you might do in this league coming into the season?
I try not to think that way. I just try to get better every day. I try to come out every day and get a little bit better. 'Cause if you get a little bit better every day, after a day, after a week, after a month, after a year, you get a lot better just naturally. I think that's one thing that I've really been focusing on this year is just fine tune the little things and then taking that in stride and work a little bit and it's been going pretty well.
-What's the pitch arsenal for you and is there a particular go-to pitch that's been really working well for you this year?
Fastball, change up, curve ball and then slider sometimes. I've been having a little bit of issues with that, but this year so far, my go-to has actually been my curve ball, which is my iffy pitch usually, so that's been fun to have that. I finally figured out a good release point and I've been able to control that really well in the zone.
-Coach wise, I hear really good feedback from other pitchers about Brad Bergesen, which is cool because it's his first year doing this. The pitching staff seems to be getting so much help from him. Could that be because he's such a small time frame removed from when he was on the mound?
Yeah. Absolutely. He gets it. He gets pitching. He gets the game itself. So, it's definitely good to be around a coach that gets that, who understands everything, that's been in those shoes, that's walked the path before and has been able to take you down it as well. It's definitely good.
-Is there anything in your background prior to signing that you think helped you prepare for the pros?
Yeah. Absolutely. Out of high school I wasn't recruited by anybody. I went JuCo my first year. Worked my butt off there, committed to Ole Miss. That whole entire path I took made me realize that it's not the end of the world no matter what happens. There's always opportunities down the road and somebody will watch, somebody will like it and it just keeps going.
-The MLB draft is upon us. Looking at the BlueClaws roster, there's a lot of you from last year's draft. Share some thoughts on that day for you last year. Getting drafted...how did you find out, how did you celebrate?
That's a hard day, man. Everybody says it's an unknown entity and it truly is. You never know what's gonna go on until you get that phone call. You hear things from various scouts and then it ends up not being that. It happens to everybody, but it was a surreal feeling, getting my name called. And seeing my name posted up there, it was unreal.
-You smiled as soon as I started asking that question. Was there anything celebratory to share? Any cool moment you can talk about? Or is it you smile 'cause it was a little exasperating?
Honestly, I'd say it was more a sigh of relief. But, no, it was definitely celebratory. It was something that I always dreamed about ever since I was a kid. You know, being in elementary school, saying you want to be a pro baseball player, and all the teachers saying, "No, you have to find something that is legit." And then being able to do that with certainty is definitely a good feeling.
-When you say that, I get revenge thoughts in my mind. Would you ever take your baseball card and send it to those teachers that tried to give you a reality check?
(Laughs) No. I wouldn't. Mostly because my mom's a third grade teacher, so I gotta have respect for them. But, it's cool.
-You knew they were looking out for you, so that's good. What are your thoughts on the team here? Seems like there's a lot of good chemistry with this group.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, one thing-- coming in from college ball, one thing was told by a bunch of different coaches and players in different organizations, they say that it's a selfish environment and I've yet to see that. This organization, as a whole, is a very selfless organization. It's kind of amazing for me, being in the shoes that I'm in. 'Cause coming up, you don't know what you're doing. I've never had a family member or anyone go through this process. And once you go through it and start to get a feeling for it-- I love where I'm at. It's a great organization, a great team here. We all get along really well.
-Excellent. Any big differences you've noticed with the regime change for the Phillies at the top? Some guys will say they've noticed the post game meal spreads have changed. The shifts and scouting material may vary from last year. Is there anything significantly different from last year for you?
I didn't get that big of a taste of it. I was in a half season at Williamsport. But from what's I've seen it seems like they're doing the right stuff.
-After the pitchers threw their side session today, down in the dugout I noticed there's heat maps for some of the opposition down by the bat rack. Also some charts that show guys' likeliness to throw certain pitches. Is that new?
That's a little different. I never had anything like that last year. That's one of those things that's just an extra added tool if you need it, because at the end of the day, you're gonna pitch to your strengths. I mean, just 'cause it says this guy isn't good with fastballs low-away, and you're good with fastballs in and he's good with fastballs in doesn't mean don't pitch there. It just means maybe there's that extra thought in the back of your head, maybe if you were having a long battle with a hitter, maybe try this because he's weak with it, if you have feel with it. I think that's going pretty well though.
-So, is that a quality or helpful study guide for you?
Yeah. I wouldn't even call it a study guide. I glance over it. You don't necessarily want to take that and try to pitch exactly to that when I go out there in the game. I kind of want to have feel for the game and what's going on with the hitter, what kind of swings he's taking, if I'm working off that. It's more of that back of your head, just use it here if you need it type thing for me.
-Did you have a favorite player growing up, or maybe a guy that you liked that you wanted to emulate?
Pitching wise, not really honestly. But my favorite player of all time was Cal Ripken. I grew up in Virginia.
-So, big Orioles fan. Did you go to a lot of games there?
I started my life as an Orioles fan, but when the Nationals came around, then I started being a Nationals fans. I was born in Alexandria, Virginia, which is 10 minutes down the road from D.C. So, my family is big Washington fans for everything.
-Have you had any trouble getting family members to back you and the Phillies organization?
No, not at all. (Laughs) I think we'll be alright.
-Very cool. Did you collect cards at all, growing up?
-Do you still have 'em?
-What are some of the standout cards in your memory?
My dad had a rookie Reggie Jackson card that was pretty significant. Um, that's the only one I really remember, but I have, like, binders and binders full of baseball cards.
-Were there any guys you targeted to fill up pages of?
No, honestly, not really. I remember as a kid, I'd always go to Toys R Us and they'd have like those big Topps (strip packs)-- for birthdays and stuff, I used ask for that all the time. I've got a lot of baseball cards, man.
-Any memorabilia in the collection?
I've got a Justin Verlander signed ball. He went through the same little league as us and when I was in 12-year-old All-Stars, we made it to regionals, right before Williamsport, and we were in Florida when he was playing and we got to go hang out with him and talk to him. It was pretty cool.
-What impressions does that make on a young kid, meeting a big leaguer like that?
Well, I mean, when you're a 12-year-old kid, you don't really pay attention, 'cause it's like that's Justin Verlander in front of you and you're not listening. You're kind of in amazement. So, honestly, I can tell you that I don't remember anything that he said. I just remember seeing him-- we watched him throw a bullpen actually, 'cause they had the mounds right there on the side of the field, like they do here in Lakwood. So, the bullpen is actually on the field and we got to watch him throw a bullpen. I remember that and I took a picture with him, which was pretty cool.
-Have any of your teammates from those days come along as far as you have in baseball?
I had one teammate play college ball and then I think I had another one play college football. I think it was just one other college baseball and then one college football.