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Parr family has a big night

June 18, 2013 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Justin Parr isn't the kind of person who likes to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He's intense, and on the baseball field, he's aggressive.

But try to pick apart what he's thinking or feeling by looking at his face and you'll struggle to find an answer. So Tuesday afternoon, standing near the Crosscutters' dugout at Bowman Field, he was stoic as he told the story of the Parr family's great night in pro baseball Monday night.

In his professional debut, Parr had a pair of hits and drove in a run for Williamsport in a season-opening 4-2 win over State College. On the other side of the country, his brother Jordan, also making his professional debut, hit the first home run in the history of Hillsboro Ballpark for the Hillsboro Hops, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. And to cap things off, the oldest of the three Parr brothers, Josh, tripled for the Hops in a 12-0 win over Eugene.

Not a bad night.

“It's cool,” Justin said following batting practice yesterday. “It's something we're really thankful for and we really feel blessed just to be able to go through. We just feel very humble to be in the situation we're in.”

Justin made his debut for the Crosscutters on Monday night after being selected in the eighth round of the First-Year Player Draft by the Phillies two weeks ago. Jordan was selected by the Diamondbacks in the 15th round of the same draft. Josh is in his third season as a pro after being taken in the 12th round by the Diamondbacks in 2011. All three brothers played baseball at the University of Illinois, but this is the first time Josh and Jordan are getting the opportunity to play together.

Justin and Jordan spent their weekend together a couple weeks ago watching the draft together. Justin said each was happier for the other one to be drafted than they were for themselves. But the excitement was increased by the realization Josh and Jordan may get the chance to play on the same team.

“That weekend was tough. You're getting calls and talking to people, different scouts who are saying different things. For me, I just wanted it to be over with and I wanted to know I was going somewhere to play,” Justin said. “When I got the text and got the call from the guy who drafted me, it was a relief. Then I was nervous because Jordan still has to go. I'm just glad that I got to go through it with him.”

All three Parr brothers, who also have a sister, Jessica, grew up with the perfect mentality for baseball. Their parents, Cameron and Sue, stressed and even keel approach to baseball and life. A family rooted in its faith never let the highs be too high, or the lows be too low.

And now, with three children playing professional baseball and putting up the occasional night like Monday night, Justin said nothing has probably changed among his parents.

“They're pretty calm. They've supposed us through all this and they believed in us through all this,” Parr said. “Obviously they're very proud and very happy for us for where we're at. For them, they're trying to keep us humble and keep us even keel. They really help in that aspect.”

Parr came to the Phillies after an incredible season at Illinois where he was named the Big 10 Player of the Year and was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes award, the college baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. He hit .398 in 55 games for the Illini, which included a school-record 33 game hitting streak. He also hit for the cycle against Purdue in April.

Parr raised his batting over 100 points from his junior season when he hit .290. The outfielder was a first-team All-American as well as being an All-Academic Big 10 selection.

“I made a few tweaks in my swing, but the biggest thing for me was just my mentality at the plate,” Parr said. “I was getting deep in counts and not chasing pitches and using my speed. That's something I had to utilize in college and I plan to use it here.”

It was only one game, but Parr carried the same approach at the plate into his professional debut Monday night. After hitting .389 and driving in 22 runs with two outs during the college season, Parr singled in his first at-bat on a 1-2 count, and then hit an RBI single on a 1-2 count with two at-bats in his second at-bat.

By not wearing his emotions on his sleeve, he maintains a calmness when he steps into the batter's box. That's where he loves to be. It's where he feels at home.

“With two outs and two strikes on me, that's time to lock down,” Parr said. “I love to compete. I don't get nervous. I love it.”

A GOOD NIGHT … KIND OF

Crosscutters manager Nelson Prada was pleased with the approach of his offense Monday night after producing 13 hits in a 4-2 win over State College. But he was quick to point out that the culmination of hits didn't exactly mean a stellar night for the offense.

The Cutters were just 3 for 18 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base.

“We got the two-out base hits to produce a couple runs, but we also had a couple times where we get second and third and we don't score any runs,” Prada said. “We had to get those runs. But it's fine, it was a win.”

Williamsport had the second-most hits of any team in the New York-Penn League on Monday night, but scored only the fifth-most runs. Only Tri-City and Hudson Valley had as many at-bats with runners in scoring position as the Crosscutters on Monday, and those two teams combined for 14 runs.

“I think we struck out a little bit too much with nine,” Prada said, “but we still did a good job with our approaches at the plate.”

SHAKY, BUT EFFECTIVE

Manny Martinez made his debut Monday night in a scoreless, two-inning relief effort. But it wasn't exactly flawless.

The Venezuelan right-hander showcased the 95 mph fastball and the filthy slider which make him an intriguing prospect for the Phillies. But he also showcased the aspects of his game which are holding him back.

Martinez loaded the bases in his first inning of work before striking out Matthew Young on three consecutive pitches to escape the jam. And in the seventh inning, he gave up a leadoff single and threw a wild pitch before recording two consecutive strikeouts, both on his slider, to escape the inning.

Martinez was 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA for the Crosscutters a year ago, making six starts. He struck out 22 but walked 15 in those 29 1/3 innings of work.

“He was that way in extended,” Prada said. “He was good, but he gets in trouble a lot. He throws 95 and has a good sinker. He might have one chance to make a quality pitch and get out of the inning and he does it. But they didn't score any runs, and that's the main thing for me.”

 
 

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