Get To Know Braves’ Rookie Reliever Wes Parsons

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 09: Wes Parsons #67 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

The wealth of highly touted pitching prospects in the Atlanta Braves system is well documented. Surprisingly, a relatively unknown Wes Parsons has been the talk of Spring Training. Braves manager, Brian Snitker confirmed Monday that Parsons had earned a spot on the opening roster working out of the bullpen.

Spring Training Success

Dubbed the Grapefruit Cy Young, the right-hander is riding a wave of momentum into the regular season. Parsons made nine appearances this spring and did not yield a single run.

In 13.1 innings pitched he only walked one batter while striking out fifteen. He earned the coaching staff’s trust by consistently throwing strikes and getting batters out.  The 26-year-old only allowed five hits this spring.

Background

The Tennessee native attended Jackson State Community College where he pitched well as a freshman. The summer after his freshman campaign he pitched in the wood bat, Northwoods League, earning a spot on the All-Star team. His successes were not enough to get him drafted though. Instead, he was signed by the Braves as an undrafted free agent in 2013.

Parsons worked his way through the minors compiling a mediocre 24-25 win/loss record since joining the Rome Braves in 2013. He has, largely, been under the radar as a prospect given the depth of the Braves’ young pitching but he has progressed each season.

Last season, Parsons earned a call up to the majors in August. He made his debut(and lone appearance) in relief of Anibal Sanchez on August 9th. Parsons took the loss, pitching five innings and allowing four earned runs in the 6-3 defeat to the Nationals.

He put in some extra work in the winter, pitching in the Dominican League. Parsons came to camp a different pitcher and the Braves took notice. Snitker told the AJC earlier this week, “Wes Parsons is not the same guy. He’s another guy who has a different air about him.”

Valuable Contributor

It wouldn’t be the first time the Braves were helped by some relative unknowns.  Both Preston Tucker and Ryan Flaherty played key roles early last season as the team marched to the NL East crown. Parsons could be the next unknown to play a big role out of the bullpen.

It’s no secret that the injury bug has bitten the Braves’ pitching staff this spring, opening the door for players expected to start the season in the minor leagues. A.J. Minter is expected to miss the first several weeks of the season as he works his way back from left shoulder tightness.

The team has not shared a timetable for setup man, Darren O’Day. It is expected that he will begin the season on the injured list. He has begun a throwing program to get back to the mound after experiencing forearm tightness this spring. Many thought that Dan Winkler was a lock for the bullpen, but surprisingly he will start the season at AAA Gwinett.

One common theory this spring was that the Braves would use one or more of their young prospects to fill out the bullpen. The front office felt differently. Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson are slated for the big league starting rotation to start the season though.

Touki Toussaint was sent to Gwinett where he will get regular starts until he is needed in Atlanta again. All these circumstances opened the door, and Parsons stormed through it to claim his spot in the bullpen.

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