Sports

A chance to impress

Aaron Parker
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier File Photo
Aaron Parker scoots to first base in a 2019 home game.

It is not in Aaron Parker’s nature to brag about his baseball abilities – his coach at Los Altos High, Gabe Stewart, called the senior a “modest fellow” – so he let his play do most of his talking in a league organized by area scouts.

Parker last weekend wrapped up a six-game stint in what’s simply dubbed the Scout League, put together by MLB scouts in the region after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the high school showcase tournaments they usually attend. The third catcher in the rotation the first weekend, Parker was his team’s starting catcher a week later after throwing out several runners.

“I think I managed to be somewhat of a standout catcher and created sort of a presence,” he said. “I think I kind of earned my stripes with the energy and intensity I brought, and they respected that.”

Parker said he was excited to receive an invitation – courtesy of Jason Waugh, Northern California area scout for the Philadelphia Phillies – to play in the four-team league. Parker was placed on the Detroit Tigers’ area scout team, comprising standout high school players from the Central Coast Section and North Coast Section, and managed by Tigers’ scout Darold Brown. Players on the opposing teams hailed from the East Bay, Sacramento and Fresno areas, respectively.

“It’s very competitive, but it’s also really fun,” Parker said. “We all get along. I’ve made a lot of friends – teammates and coaches.”

Building a bond

Although his 20-man team didn’t get to practice together, Parker said, the players still got to know each other pretty well during those eight-inning doubleheaders at Immanuel Sports Complex in Reedley. Parker was already familiar with a few of his teammates, including Palo Alto High’s Zander Darby, whom he called “a close friend.”

Parker and Darby will join forces again next year – both have committed to play for UC Santa Barbara. Nineteen of the 20 players on Parker’s Scout League squad are bound for NCAA Division I colleges, he noted.

The Scout League followed COVID-19 safety protocols, according to Parker, with all coaches wearing masks and players given the option to do so as well.

Finishing strong

While pleased with how the league was run and how he performed behind the plate, Parker was less than thrilled with the way he hit the ball the first two weekends.

“My presence at the plate was not what I wanted,” said Parker, whose lone hit after four games was a single.

He finished strong, however, blasting a home run in Saturday’s finale. It marked only the second homer hit by the Tigers in their six games.

Hits of any kind didn’t come easy in a league filled with what Parker described as “high-caliber pitching.” He noted that some of the hurlers threw 90-plus mph fastballs.

That’s not something Parker saw every day at Los Altos, where he’s been one of the Eagles’ top hitters since making varsity as a freshman.

Preparing for 2021

Parker’s high school season was cut short this year – canceled after just six games because of the pandemic – so he is eager to play his senior season next spring.

“I’m super exited to get back on the field and pick up where we left off last season,” said Parker, whose Eagles got off to a 5-1 start. “I want to keep having fun and success, and hopefully win league.”

In preparation, Parker trains two to three times a week with a small group of teammates. With permission from their parents, “we’ve established a bubble,” he said, in which they work together on their hitting, throwing, defense and conditioning.

Giving up football

In a typical year, Parker would be playing football right now. But with football being moved from fall to winter, the standout running back said he’s given it up because of the overlap with the start of the baseball season.

“It’s sad to leave that community of Eagle football, and I feel like I’m letting my teammates and coaches down,” said Parker, voted SCVAL El Camino Division Offensive MVP last fall. “I will definitely miss football.”

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