The night of the MLB First Year Player Draft gives every team hope for the future, especially those that are not having the best of times at present.
The Oakland A’s certainly fall into that category. They selected Addison Russell, a shortstop out of high school, with the eleventh pick of the draft and if they can convince him to pass up his commitment to Auburn University then he may turn into a star in the Green and Gold a few years down the line.
Such dreams can be a welcome distraction from current struggles at the Major League level; however even in a disappointing season a team can provide reason to cheer on any given day. Jarrod Parker, a first round pick by the Arizona Diamonsbacks in the 2007 draft, did just that for the A’s on Monday.
The 24-year-old rookie took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the fearsome Texas Rangers. His no-hit bid was ended by Michael Young, but manager Bob Melvin was one of the few people connected to the A’s who breathed a sigh of relief, rather than a groan of disappointment, when it happened.
Just a few days after Terry Collins left Johan Santana in the game to complete a no-hitter with a relatively high pitch count, Melvin was faced with the same basic dilemma.
However, there were several different factors at play in Parker’s attempt. While Santana is a veteran, Parker is a young pitcher only just starting his Major League career. He was acquired in an offseason trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the A’s believe he can be a frontline starter for years to come. Having already worked his way back from Tommy John surgery, there would have been little sense in pushing Parker too far – especially in a season where the A’s are not going to be contenders and were leading the game 10-0 heading into the eighth – and risking an injury as fatigue set in.
One fluky hit can nix even the best-pitched no-hitter bid, as we witnessed with Justin Verlander only a few weeks ago. No-hitters are special events, but they are not more important than a young pitcher’s future and if Parker had pitched through the eighth inning with 120+ pitches to his name, it would have been a real risk for Melvin to leave him in for the ninth.
Hopefully Melvin would have taken him out of the game, but Michael Young’s intervention was the easiest way to resolve the situation.
Runs against the Rangers
It was a strange night all around at the Oakland Coliseum.
The A’s offence has been woeful this season and it’s a testament to baseball’s ability to match football in the ‘funny old game’ stakes that on one day they can make Royals pitcher (and the A’s 2005 third-round draft pick) Vin Mazzaro look like a Cy Young candidate, and the next they put up an eight-spot in one inning against the Rangers.
All the more bizarre is that the similarly offensively challenged Seattle Mariners also broke out the bats against Texas last Wednesday. They had back-to-back eight-run innings in a 21-8 victory.
The Rangers do have a potent offence, but their pitchers shouldn’t be overconfident at their teammates’ ability to score as many runs as required to win a game.
Doolittle’s dream comes true
There was one further piece of good news on Monday relating to the A’s and a player they had drafted.
The A’s took Sean Doolittle in the first round of the 2007 draft after he had impressed as both a pitcher and a first baseman at the University of Virginia. Oakland decided to take him off the mound as a prospect in their system, before a series of knee injuries forced him to miss the best part of three seasons from 2009 to 2011.
At the end of last season, Oakland and Doolittle decided that the best way for him to progress his career would be to get back out on the mound. After just one inning in rookie ball at the end of 2011 and 25 innings so far this year combined over the A+, AA, and AAA levels, Doolittle was called up to the Big League roster on Monday and he will join the A’s bullpen on Tuesday.
Doolittle’s promotion to the Major Leagues as a pitcher, after so much injury heartbreak as a position player, is an incredible story regardless of how well he performs. However, the scouting reports suggest that there is a good chance that his journey still has plenty of miles to run. He’s definitely a player worth keeping an eye on for the rest of this season.