Name: Parker Dunshee
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 205
How Acquired: Selected in the 7th round of the 2017 MLB draft.
Parker Dunshee knows how to make a positive first impression. The right-hander threw 38.1 scoreless innings for the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters in his professional debut season. A crafty right-hander with an advanced feel for pitching, can Dunshee’s stuff translate at the higher levels?
Domination is nothing new for Dunshee, who finished off a brilliant four-year career at Wake Forest before going to the A’s in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. In four seasons for the Demon Deacons, Dunshee posted a 3.20 ERA and struck-out 330 in 326 innings. He had an opportunity to turn pro in 2016 after his junior season, but he elected to pitch his senior year with Wake Forest after going in the 14th round to the Chicago Cubs. As a senior, Dunshee threw a career-high 103.1 innings. He posted 3.91 ERA and had a 111:30 K:BB.
After the draft, Dunshee’s signing scout, Neil Avent, praised Dunshee’s competitive nature and his ability to throw strikes with all of his pitches.
“He’s an outstanding athlete that is a strike-thrower and has a competitive chip on his shoulder,” Avent said. “He has excellent feel to pitch. He is around the ‘zone and he’s going to give you usually a very consistent performance every time out. I would expect that he will be very solid at the next level. He’s a very solid makeup young man. Very smart, athletic pitcher.”
After signing with Oakland, Dunshee made his professional debut with the AZL A’s. He was touched for three runs on five hits (including a homerun) in two innings in that debut outing. The outing would be an outlier.
Dunshee made his debut with Vermont on June 30, tossing two scoreless innings. Because Dunshee threw so many innings during his college season, he was kept on a strict innings- and pitch-limit with Vermont. He made the most of his short outings. In 12 appearances, Dunshee allowed only 27 base-runners in 38.1 innings (0.60 WHIP). He struck-out 45 and held opposing batters to a .115 average. Dunshee was named a mid-season New York-Penn League All-Star and he (naturally) threw a scoreless inning in the mid-season classic.
Dunshee did falter in the post-season in his two starts for Vermont, but he was in the 160-inning territory for the year at that point. The A’s did not have Dunshee come to fall Instructional League, instead giving him a full off-season to recover and prepare for 2018.
Despite Dunshee’s dominating numbers with the Lake Monsters, he doesn’t have a power-pitcher’s arsenal. Dunshee’s four-seam fastball sits in the 88-91 MPH range and is true. Where he gets his most movement is on his secondary pitches – a changeup and a slider. Dunshee came to pro ball with the slider as his most effective secondary offering, but he threw his changeup more frequently with Vermont and it was an effective pitch for him.
“In college, maybe I had to show that I had one to lefties or show the other the team that I was willing to throw it, but I never had to really use it as a weapon to get guys out,” Dunshee told me in August.
Dunshee said the changeup was useful against both right-handers and left-handers.
“It’s just a different look for righties. It’s something moving down-and-in to them. My fastball is more four-seam and it stays pretty straight and true,” Dunshee said. “With the changeup moving down-and-in, you are looking for weak contact and a groundball somewhere. Or it’s to put something in the back of their minds. If they take it for a ball, but they know that you are willing to do that, that just makes your other pitches that much more effective.”
Dunshee may see his velocity jump up a bit once he has had time with a professional arm care and training program, but he isn’t ever going to be an over-powering pitcher. Where Dunshee will find success is being able to keep hitters off-balance by mixing his pitches effectively and pounding the lower-half of the strike-zone. Dunshee had a 43.8% groundball rate and a 5.4% walk rate in his pro debut season.
Dunshee is a good athlete who repeats his delivery well and has the frame to handle a starter’s workload. He may benefit down-the-road from adding a fastball with more movement to compliment his four-seam, either a two-seam or a cut-fastball. A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson suggested in August that the A’s coaching staff may work with Dunshee to tweak his delivery to finish more online with the plate. Otherwise, what he is now as a pitcher is likely what he will remain: a strike-thrower with good command of his secondary pitches and the competitiveness to challenge hitters to beat him. The A’s have historically had success developing pitchers with Dunshee’s profile.
A college senior sign, Dunshee was on the older side for his level last year. He will turn 23 in February. With his collegiate experience, advanced feel for pitching and the success he had in short-season, Dunshee is a good candidate to jump to High-A Stockton in his first full professional season.
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