Parker McFadden was never an unknown pitcher; his mechanics and command kept the Yelm High School ace on college coaches’ radar.
But when his high-80s fastball touched the mid-90s last summer, McFadden turned into a must-have recruit.
Attention from professional scouts has been just as swift.
McFadden is Yelm’s No. 1 starter, a laid-back guy who spends what little free time he has away from baseball buried in academics, perfecting his weightlifting forms or one of the area’s fishing hotspots.
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“He’s a modern-day Renaissance (man),” Tornados coach Brady Hoover said.
With a dandy of a right arm to boot.
The 6-foot-1 senior also has blossomed into a flame-throwing pitcher who projects to attract adults with radar guns at every start on the mound.
It’s McFadden’s all-around qualities — and particularly his arm strength and build — that Washington State head coach Donnie Marbut, an Aberdeen native and former Capital High assistant coach, raves about when he talks of his recent signee, whom he describes as a huge get for the Cougars’ latest recruiting class.
Marbut and his staff kept tabs on McFadden starting his sophomore year, but like a lot of coaches, they got wide-eyed when McFadden first clocked 94 miles per hour at a tournament last June while pitching for the EvoShield Canes West.
For his part, McFadden couldn’t believe what the radar gun read.
“I was doing my postgame workout and a kid came up to me and said, ‘Do you know what you hit?’ ” McFadden said. “I was super excited.
“Everything took off.”
The following month at the Perfect Game World Series in Arizona, McFadden’s fastball range was 91-94 mph, and he reached 95 while pitching at an event at Safeco Field, McFadden said.
Marbut had to sign him.
“I don’t know if anyone has more arm strength than him,” Marbut said, “… and maybe the pure upside more than Parker.”
Just how much upside could he have? If he’s drafted and chooses to sign in June’s Major League Baseball’s First-year Amateur Player Draft, Hoover thinks he could be picked in the first five rounds. If McFadden ends up at Washington State, Marbut said he feels McFadden will have an immediate impact in the starting rotation or vie for the closer’s role.
As for, just how McFadden gained those 6 miles per hour? He credits pure strength, athleticism and “always wanting to be the best.”
“I don’t like to get beat — not in the weightroom or anything,” McFadden said. “I’m pretty competitive.”
Longtime track and cross country coach Mike Strong calls McFadden the fastest guy in the school, yet McFadden doesn’t play football or run track. He also might be the strongest, with a bench press at 305 pounds and a deadlift at 535.
And he got hooked on weightlifting partly because of an injury.
Two winters ago, McFadden got a bone bruise on his right elbow, his pitching arm, while snowboarding at White Pass. Still, it wasn’t until last spring when his pitching found a groove.
Pitching is a big strength for Yelm, and Hoover expects nothing but bigger things starting with McFadden.
“To be where he’s at is impressive,” Hoover said. “He’s a special talent.”