As we wind down our player review series, we come to a pitcher who has not had an easy road to the majors but finally got a brief taste of it in Wes Parsons. Parsons may not have the ceiling of many of the Braves’ top pitching prospects and he may not pitch for the team ever again, but what he has been able to accomplish is nonetheless remarkable.
Parsons was signed out as an undrafted free agent back in 2012 with the rumor being that a Braves official saw him pitch in a wood bat independent summer league of some kind and snatched him up. During the darker periods for the farm system, Parsons was actually a top 15 prospect in the Braves farm system with major league velocity and a bit of projectability given the lack of high level coaching he had received up until that point.
Unfortunately, after already beating the odds to become a pro in the first place, injuries started to give Parsons trouble. He only appeared in five games in 2014 and was used largely as a reliever in 2016 while dealing with injuries that season as well. 2017 saw him used a starter here and there as well. To be blunt, many had forgotten Parsons as a prospect until this year where he was used predominantly as a starter and posted a 2.76 ERA across two levels of the minors.
Parsons’ 2018 season is absolutely a success story as he got back on folks’ radars and he pitched incredibly well down in the minors. His performance earned him a spot on the Gwinnett shuttle as he was called up from Gwinnett four times during the 2018 season although most of the times it was as an emergency back-up situation if there was weather/doubleheader/injury concern. He did make one appearance with the team and went five innings while giving up four runs and six hits and three walks. Not a great major league debut, but considering the road that he had to take to get there...it is still remarkable that he made it.
Bottom line, what did he do in 2018? 2.76 ERA across two levels of the minor leagues (117.1 innings) with 104 strikeouts and 35 walks. He also made one appearance in the majors with a 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K line.
Will he be on the roster in 2019? This seems doubtful. Parsons has experience throwing out of the bullpen in the minor leagues, so him being a relief piece isn’t out of the question but the Braves may have access to better options both internally and on the various trade and free agent markets this offseason. As for in the rotation, I suppose crazier things have happened, but the Braves are loaded with starting pitching prospects that just very likely better than him. He has some pitchability and the results this year were good, but he seems to be destined for the minor leagues again or to try to find a spot with another organization.
What will he do in 2019? He will pitch for a team (although it may not end up being the Braves) in Spring Training with an outside chance at a roster spot. However, the smartest bet seems to be that he will start the season at Triple-A with a chance to prove that he can stick in major leagues.