Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson are in a race for the fifth outfield position on the San Francisco Giants. Both are having respectable springs, but only one had success in the big leagues last season. Obviously, the sample sizes in the spring are extremely small and it’s probably better to judge their futures on their minor league numbers, but the spring numbers will help or hurt their respective cases to make the Opening Day roster.
Parker, 27, has impressed at every level with his power, slashing .261/.365/.448 with 84 home runs in 2,598 minor league plate appearances. The lefty has had trouble hitting lefties along with breaking balls from both sides, likely making him a platoon outfielder at best. As a pinch hitter off the bench, he will likely hit for the pitcher most of the time and the next two batters will be Denard Span and Joe Panik, two lefties. He did have a troublesome strikeout rate of 30 percent, but also posted a 12-percent walk rate.
Parker is an example of a true outcome hitter, but he can also play all three outfield positions and he runs the bases at an acceptable level. The most impressive aspect of Parker is that he hit six home runs in 54 plate appearances at the major-league level last season, including a three-homer game in Oakland. He’s also stroking it in Arizona this spring, posting an OPS of .827 with three home runs in 43 plate appearances. He does have a 30-percent strikeout rate and 7-percent walk rate, though.
Williamson, 25, missed most of the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery but came back in 2015 to strong offensive numbers in Double-A Richmond, Triple-A Sacramento, and the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. The right-hander posted a wRC+ of 120 or higher at all three levels with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 603 plate appearances. Unlike Parker, Williamson struggled in the 34 plate appearances he got in San Francisco, posting a 42 wRC+ and zero walks.
Williamson’s spring training numbers have opened some eyes though; he has four home runs with an OPS of 1.091 in 42 plate appearances. Being a right-handed hitter could help him make the club, as he could platoon with Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco in left along with giving Hunter Pence a day off every week or so. The club is missing a right-handed bat off the bench with at least league average power.
However, there is an open spot on the 40-man roster with Ian Gardeck going on the 60-day disabled list, and they might want to retain one or two of Kyle Blanks, Conor Gillaspie, Grant Green, or Gorkys Hernandez, who are not on the secondary roster. With the roster changing dozens of times during the season we could see San Francisco opt to retain depth instead of going with the best possible roster to begin the season. Parker and Williamson will likely see time in San Francisco this year, but right now they’re fighting to make the Opening Day roster.