Name: Andrew Parrino
DOB: October 31, 1985
Not happy unless the jersey deserves a good washing, Parrino never takes a play off. He is pure hustle and heart with an infectious personality that allows him to be a natural leader.
"Parrino was my MVP after (Luis) Durango," 2007 Eugene hitting coach and current AZL Padres manager Jose Flores said. "He was my best player offensively and defensively. He was really steady at short – made the plays and put the ball in play and hit the ball well."
Parrino brings the same attitude to the play – to his detriment.
He is a free-swinger who is learning how to live within the constraints of the Padres patiently aggressive approach.
When he first arrived in Eugene, Parrino was swinging early in the count, in the middle and at the end. Oftentimes, he was getting himself out.
A switch-hitter who appears more confident in his approach from the left side, Parrino has a penchant for swinging at balls out of the zone. When he chased on the outside part of the zone, Parrino would lean out and hit weak grounders to the left side of the infield.
As he tamed his approach – he began seeing more pitches but recognizing which are the good ones to swing at and which he should stay away from remains a work in progress.
There would also be times when Parrino swung for the fences, using all of his energy to tattoo the ball. The result is often an erratic swing that can't be controlled – making it harder for him to make good, consistent contact.
"When he finds out if he can just be fundamentally sound – stay back, see the ball, take a good swing at the baseball, he will have bat speed – you can't help but have bat speed," hitting instructor Tony Muser said. "You have to be able to control your swing. If you control your swing, you have a better chance of controlling the baseball and seeing the ball longer."
When he stays balanced and swings through the ball, Parrino is a gap-to-gap hitter that is always on the lookout for an extra base and sleeping defenders. He has surprising pop from his 185-pound frame and when the pitchers leave balls over the plate he can tattoo them.
Parrino turns on the inside fastball well and has a swing from the left side that is conducive to line drives. He will pull the ball into the left field gaps with authority – if he gets his pitch.
Finding the balance and being able to channel that aggression through the middle of the zone in the coming year will be pivotal for Parrino. He has the talent and desire to succeed but can't afford to strike out once every 3.44 at-bats.
When he hits right-handed, his swing gets long and his smooth stroke is jagged. He holds his hands much higher from the right side and has to drop them as the pitch comes home. The result is his hands aren't in a natural hitting position.
His body also isn't as fluid, and he begins his trigger earlier in the count, making him susceptible to off-speed pitches. He fanned once every 2.83 at-bats as a right-handed hitter during the season. If he does not drop his hands in time, Parrino finds himself late on fastballs.
Despite the flaws, Parrino managed to hit .271 this past season. It is easy to see how much he could improve with a selective approach that promotes good habits. He also sported a .365 on-base percentage, a number he can elevate as his pitch recognition improves.
He saw 3.6 pitchers per plate appearance in the Padres fall Instructional League, making a concerted effort to work the count in his favor.
"He did a real good job down in the Instructional League," Flores said. "As he gets older, he needs to understand what they are trying to do because he is always being moved around in the lineup. It is hard to adjust when you are being moved around. It is easy to get comfortable if you know you are hitting ninth everyday. You know how they are going to pitch you in the nine-hole.
"For him it is going to take time to adjust to where he hits in the lineup, who is in front of him and behind him, and what they are trying to do. I think with Andy it is about more time, seasoning, more at-bats, and how they are pitching him on a daily basis."
Parrino split time between second base and shortstop in college and continued the same trend in the professional ranks. He showed great lateral movement and a solid arm from the hole, covering a lot of ground and playing with soft, sure hands.
His .965 fielding percentage at shortstop ranked second in the Northwest League, falling two percentage points shy of the league-leader.
He is not fleet of foot and offers marginal speed, making him only as valuable as the multitude of positions he is able to play. Expect him to eventually tackle third base in the future, as a result. But, if the ball is within range, Parrino will make the play.
"Great kid," former Padres minor league field coordinator and current major league scout Bill Bryk said. "He will play a long time and may fight his way (to the big leagues). He continues to get better."
ETA: Parrino is a ways away from being a major league player. First and foremost, he has to cut down on his strikeouts. If he can do that and continue the strides defensively, he has a chance as a utility player. Parrino should see a lot of action in Fort Wayne this season.