Parker was drafted by the Giants in the second round (74th overall) of the 2010 MLB entry draft. The Giants gave him a $700,000 signing bonus to woo him away from the University of Virginia, where he was a three-year stalwart in the outfield for the Cavaliers.
During his collegiate career, he batted .326 in 656 at-bats with 26 home runs and 46 stolen bases in 55 attempts. He also showed strong plate discipline, walking 91 times in college.
Parker made his professional debut in 2011 with high-A San Jose. While he showed flashes of potential, he also showed some holes in his game. He batted .253 in 486 at-bats, with 13 home runs and 20 steals. Parker did sport a .360 on-base percentage, drawing 74 walks. But he also struck out a lot -- much like during his college career, where 26.9 percent of his at-bats ended in strikeouts.
In his first year of pro ball, Parker struck out 144 times -- that's 25 percent of all plate appearances.
Depending on where you look, Parker is listed between 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4, giving him a sturdy frame that will flesh out as he climbs the minor league ranks. However, he's seen as only an average power threat. By far his biggest assett is his speed, making him a threat on the basebaths. Parker's also a plus defender, despite a questionable throwing arm. He has strong range in center field, with good speed for tracking down fly balls.
Despite oozing athleticism, Parker has struggled throughout his college and pro careers with establishing offensive consistency. High-A pitchers have been able to exploit the holes in his swing, limiting him to the .253 average. While he does have a good recognition of the strike zone, he often simply fails to execute, causing high volumes of strikeouts, a problem that will only intensify as he faces more advanced pitching.
At age 23 and still in high-A, Parker faces an uphill battle as he works his way up the Giants' organizational depth chart. Simply put, the only thing holding him back is the high strikeout rate. While that is an issue that some players can overcome (see Mark Reynolds or Justin Upton), Parker does not have the type of power potential to justify the high strikeout numbers. However, he does have a lot going for him if he can fix the holes in his swing.
Parker does have some power potential, and is one of the fastest players in the Giants' system. Given his superior knowledge of the strike zone, that makes him an ideal top-of-the-order batter. However, he has a ways to go. Parker will have to show improvements at San Jose before the Giants give him a chance at Richmond or Fresno. Given that, he's likely two years away, at least, from sniffing the big leagues.
We see Parker's skill set as comparable to Franklin Gutierrez of the Mariners: A strong outfielder with some pop; a threat on the base paths; but also a strikeout liability.