The Cardinals have most of their 2010 bullpen penciled in I would imagine. Ryan Franklin to close out games. Jason Motte to setup from the right side. Trevor Miller and Dennys Reyes to retire lefties. Kyle McClellan and Blake Hawksworth as holdovers. Then there’s a plethora of guys to fight it out for that last spot – Mitchell Boggs, Rule V Draftee Ben Jukich and “Ridin’ that 2006 Wave” Josh Kinney.
There’s a couple other names that could insert themselves into the discussion. Starters like PJ Walters or Adam Ottavino likely will get a look in Spring Training. Eduardo Sanchez certainly made some noise towards the end of 2009 in Springfield and there are live arms littered through the system with Francisco Samuel being at the top of that list.
One name that doesn’t come up as often as it should is Pete Parise.
Parise isn’t the sexy choice for a prospect graduating to the majors. He doesn’t strike out many hitters; he was signed as an undrafted free agent. Parise isn’t flashy in the way that Mitchell Boggs has a live fastball or Josh Kinney has a sick slider or Ben Jukich is stolen property. Instead, Parise gets by on the Dave Duncan recipie for success when your stuff is average: 1) Throw strikes. 2) Get groundouts.
In 2008, Luke Gregerson threw 75 innings at Springfield. What made him standout was not just the 3:1 K rate with 78 punchouts but the combination of that with a 54% groundball rate. That’s a string tendency towards groundouts. Brad Thompson‘s Memphis to St. Louis shuttle has been predicated on groundouts as well. In both 2009 and 2008 he averaged 54% between both levels.
If you set the cutoff at 20 IP, Pete Parise would rank 4th in groundball rate for the PCL with 61%. He split his time between Memphis and Springfield in 2009 pitching 34.2 and 40.2 innings, respectively. He struck out around 18% of the batters he faced (approx. 6.6 K per 9IP) and maintained a 2:1 K:BB ratio. His walk numbers don’t display superb command but command that’s servicable when you are generating groundballs 56% of the time.
The 40-man roster situation works against Parise has he doesn’t need to be protected unlike others (Boggs, Jukich, Kinney, Tyler Norrick, Ottavino, Walters, etc.) but it certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility that he could make a strong showing in 2010. Even in the event that he doesn’t make the team, he’s worth keeping a close eye on. He’s unlikely to work the late innings in Memphis where Eduardo Sanchez and Francisco Samuel could start the year but if he continues to generate groundballs, he’ll get his shot in the near future.