Padres sign Parker Markel to minor league deal, invite to Spring Training

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres added a bullpen arm to the mix in Parker Markel on Tuesday. The 30-year-old has an invite to Spring Training as well.

While the Padres’ bullpen projects to be a crowded room in 2021, the team made a small move on Tuesday, adding 30-year-old Parker Markel on a minor league deal.

Originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 32nd round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Markel elected a year of collegiate baseball at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. However, his draft stock took a hit, selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 39th round the following year. It’s been an uphill battle ever since.

He’s pitched very well at both Double-A and Triple-A during his professional career with a 3.17 ERA and 2.57 ERA, respectively. But as he’s faced better competition, his walk rate has increased. For example, in Single-A, Markel posted a 2.6 BB/9 in one season. But in three seasons at Triple-A, his walk rate ballooned up to 4.7 BB/9. He has some experience in the big leagues as well, pitching with both the Mariners and Pirates in 2019.

The same issues plagued him, walking a combined 7.0 BB/9 despite featuring an impressive 9.8 K/9. With Seattle, Markel made five appearances, fanning three batters in just 4.2 innings. Over a larger sample size with Pittsburgh, he struck out 21 batters in 17.1 innings and allowed 13 walks. Markel hasn’t missed a lot of bats with the exception of his slider. According to Statcast, his primary pitch yielded a .146 batting average with a 37.3 swing-and-miss rate.

His three other pitches, including a four-seamer, sinker, and changeup, didn’t fool anyone. But if there’s anything positive to take away here, his fastball velocity and spin rate were ranked within the league’s 78th percentile or better.

After the 2019 season, the Pirates traded him to the Los Angeles Angels, but he was designated before pitchers and catchers were set to report to Spring Training. He elected free agency after the 2020 postseason. An interesting tidbit, Markel was granted released from the Lotte Giants of the KBO in 2017 after suffering from anxiety issues. He took some time away from baseball before jumping back in with the Sioux City Explorers of the Independent Baseball League in 2018, latching on with the Seattle Mariners in September of that year.

The primary question is, where does he plug-in?

Markel will be invited to spring camp, but he’s probably best served to pitch regularly at Triple-A El Paso. Unless there are a string of injuries in the bullpen, Markel likely won’t significantly impact the big league level. He needs to cut down on the walks drastically. Perhaps the Padres’ pitching coaches can work some magic and use his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame to get the right pitch usage down, so he can be set up for success.

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