The Washington Times - September 15, 2008, 10:51PM

By JAY LeBLANC
September 15, 2008

Bobby Parnell is a man on a mission. When National Pastime spoke to the 6’ 4”, 200-pound righty just a couple weeks ago, he had just made his final start with the double-A Binghamton Mets, for whom he went 10-6 with a 4.30 ERA this season. After a five-game stint with the triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, Parnell was summoned to the majors on Sept. 1. After two weeks of watching and waiting, he made his debut for the New York Mets this evening when he pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth in a 7-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. In doing so, he became the second National Pastime Prospect Q&A subject to reach the bigs, behind only Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Greg Golson.

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Parnell has been a starter since the Mets took him out of Charleston Southern in the ninth round of the 2005 draft, but he’ll be pitching out of the bullpen this September. And with the Mets engaged in a heated National League East pennant race with the Phillies, it’s unlikely that the still somewhat raw soon-to-be 24-year-old will see much time on the mound. Regardless, it will be a great opportunity for Parnell, who said he learned a lot about pitching just from being around some of the Mets’ veteran hurlers during spring training.

“I got a chance to go to big league camp this year with the Mets. Billy Wagner and those guys, [Johan] Santana’s changeup … I like to take it from everybody,” Parnell said, when asked if there were any pitchers he looks up to. “I like to learn as I go, from who I can. I like to just watch everybody.”

Parnell had little success as a collegiate pitcher - he posted ERAs of 6.82 and 8.86 during his final two NCAA seasons - and was drafted primarily because scouts were intrigued by his low- to mid-90s heat. He has worked hard to refine his craft since turning pro, as evidenced by the fact that he’s earned All-Star honors at three minor league levels during his relatively quick trip to the show. He compliments his heat with a hard slider and a changeup that he’s made significant progress with this season, and while he strikes out a good amount of hitters, he likes to try to pitch to contact and induce ground balls. Parnell could probably use a bit more seasoning, but if all goes well this month and next spring, he could find himself in the Mets’ 2009 rotation.

You can read the full National Pastime Prospect Q&A with Bobby Parnell by clicking here.

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and Mayor of the National Pastime web community. His Prospect Q&A column runs every Monday and Thursday throughout the season. He can be reached at jleblanc@washingtontimes.com.