Parker McFadden Days didn’t exist at Yelm High School each time the hard-throwing senior took the mound this spring, but the atmosphere created when the right-hander pitched felt like a once-a-week special event.
The turnouts were large, home and away. Professional scouts, and their radar guns, attended regularly. So did fans who wanted a glimpse of the South Sound pitcher armed with a devastating fastball that clocked in the mid-90s and topped out at 97 mph.
At times, opposing hitters felt like they could only watch, too.
After McFadden and the Tornados beat Timberline, 2-1, on March 30, behind his nine-strikeout, two-hit performance over five innings, Timberline coach Mark Rubadue said after the game his players went up against a different type of animal.
“I didn’t face that (as a player) until I got to college, until I was much more mature and stronger,” said Rubadue, a North Thurston High graduate who played baseball at Central Washington. “I don’t remember anybody throwing as hard as this kid.”
Well, maybe one guy, but that was at least 16 years ago.
Centralia’s Jason Stumm, a football, basketball and baseball standout in the late 1990s, might be the next-best comparison. Stumm, whom the Chicago White Sox’s drafted in the first round in 1999 (15th overall) out of high school, had a fastball range of 95-98 mph. And his array of off-speed pitches led the organization to hand Stumm a $1.75 million signing bonus. He struggled in the minor leagues before ending his career in 2005 because of elbow and shoulder injuries.
McFadden, The Olympian’s All-Area baseball Player of the Year, said he declined two organizations’ top-five-round offers and was selected in the 20th round by the Seattle Mariners during Wednesday’s final day of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.
He said he’ll pass on the pros for now. Instead, McFadden will honor his commitment to Washington State, even though longtime Cougars coach Donnie Marbut was recently fired.The school named former Oregon State and Oklahoma State assistant Marty Lees its new coach.
“I like the new guys,” McFadden said of the newly hired coaching staff. “They’re good guys.”
McFadden will be eligible again for the draft in 2018 after his junior season at WSU. He said he hopes to mature physically — he is 6-foot tall and is listed at 200 pounds —develop better off-speed pitches and continue to improve his command.
And, another important thing.
“Live on my own,” he said.
McFadden was the unanimous Class 4A Narrows League pitching MVP, throwing 442/3 innings with a 0.78 ERA, 89 strikeouts and only 10 hits allowed. He threw two one-hitters (Gig Harbor, Olympia) and had his first-career no-hitter in a 12-0 seven-inning win over Stadium.
Yelm coach Brady Hoover said the course of McFadden’s improvement is highlighted by his command. The change in his strikeout-to-walk ratio was like “night and day” from his junior to senior seasons, and he averaged almost two strikeouts per inning this spring. And then there was that spike in velocity, which began last summer when he was first clocked at 94 mph.
“Guys like him don’t come around often,” Hoover said.