Two-sport athletes are increasingly more common in professional sports; especially in baseball and football. You don’t have to look too hard to see the success of two-sport athletes either. Last week’s NFC Championship game featured two quarterbacks who had the option to pursue a professional baseball or football career. It’s the success of athletes like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick that have the Colorado Rockies excited about their two-sport prospect who has chosen baseball as his walking path.
If you haven’t heard of Kyle Parker, then it won’t be long before you do. The former Clemson quarterback has found a home in the Rockies farm system and appears to be the future of the Colorado Rockies. In an effort to bring the future to Denver much quicker, Parker is harnessing the athleticism learned on the gridiron to transition from the outfield to first base. Which is precisely where the Colorado Rockies want him.
Kyle Parker is the perfect replacement for Todd Helton. He has the power and pop at the plate a younger Todd Helton possessed; see his three 20-home run seasons in Double-A Tulsa. His 6-foot, 200-pound frame, one that does not induce impressions of power or intimidation, would enjoy hitting in the friendly confines of Coors Field.
With the signing of Justin Morneau in the offseason, it is clear the Rockies are hoping Parker is their long-term solution for a first baseman. While Morneau buys the Rox time, Parker has a few holes to sure up. Rest assured, he’s putting in the work to get there.
First, he’ll need to learn the position of first base. It was once believed you could hide your weaker fielders at first base, but the advantages of a defensively poised first baseman are too numerous to miss out on. Kyle Parker’s transition from the outfield to first base, despite his superb athleticism, will take time and reps. He’s been reported to be staying later into the night to field extra grounders and learn the ins and outs of first base during offseason workouts.
Another weakness Parker is looking to remedy is pitch recognition. Film study has shown that in spite of his remarkable power, his hands are still slow to some pitches. The Rockies firmly believe that this is due to lack of experience, not lack of ability. Look for Parker to get opportunities to grow in Triple-A Colorado Springs where the pitching is as close to big league pitching as you can find.
Though we likely won’t get to see Kyle Parker in the purple and silver this year, he is on the fast track to the big league roster. With big league pop, athleticism, and versatility the only thing keeping Parker off of first base in Denver is experience. That will come with time. And the Rockies are ok with that.
As the Colorado Rockies actively move into rebuilding their roster, it is evident that Justin Morneau’s signing was nothing more than a temporary fill-in. With Morneau’s career nearing its end and Kyle Parker in need of a year or two of growth, the Rockies have made all the right moves in setting up for their future at first base. A future that finally seems to be pointing to brighter days ahead.