Manuel Alex Parra
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 200 lb.
- School American River College
- High School Casa Roble High School
- Debut July 20, 2007
- Final Game October 1, 2015
- Born October 30, 1982 in Carmichael, CA USA
Parra was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers as a draft-and-follow pick in the 26th round of the 2001 amateur draft. The 2007 Brewers Media Guide says that he was named the Baseball America National Junior College Player of the Year but this is not mentioned in the 2003 Baseball Almanac, which lists Nick Markakis as winning the Baseball America Junior College Player of the Year award and does not place Parra on their Small College All-America Team or junior college All-America team. He was signed by scout Justin McCray in May 2002 and made his pro debut that summer.
Manny debuted professionally with the AZL Brewers (0-0, 4.50 in one game) and the Ogden Raptors (3-1, 3.21, 51 K, 10 BB but 59 H in 47 2/3 IP). The left-hander had a fine 2003 for the Beloit Snappers, going 11-2 with a 2.73 ERA and a 4.88:1 K:BB ratio. He was 10th in the Midwest League in ERA and Baseball America rated him as the #4 prospect in the league, behind Prince Fielder, Blake Hawksworth and Justin Jones and right ahead of Joe Blanton and Joel Zumaya. Baseball America also picked him as Milwaukee's 4th-best prospect.
In 2004, the 21-year-old left-hander had a 5-2, 3.48 record for the High Desert Mavericks and 0-1, 4.50 for the Huntsville Stars. Baseball America rated him as the #8 prospect in the California League, between Fred Lewis and Jon Zeringue. Shoulder injuries limited his time.
Parra posted a 5-6, 3.96 record for the 2005 Huntsville Stars, allowing a .295 average but still striking out over four times as many as he walked. After 16 starts, he was sidelined by left rotator cuff surgery.
Parra dropped a level in 2006 while rehabbing, going 1-3 with a 2.96 ERA for the Brevard County Manatees and showing uncharacteristic wildness (32 walks in 54 2/3 IP) and also having a 3-0, 2.87 record in six starts for Huntsville. He pitched for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, going 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in five starts.
Parra began 2007 back in Huntsville, starting off 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 80 2/3 IP. He was leading the Southern League in ERA and was promoted to the Nashville Sounds when Yovani Gallardo was called up to the majors. Parra lost his debut in AAA to the Iowa Cubs. His second outing at the level was one for the history books, as he threw a perfect game against the Round Rock Express, striking out 11. It was the 8th perfect game in Pacific Coast League history, but only the third that went 9 innings. Amazingly, all three had taken place within the last 7 years of the 105 year history of the league, as John Halama had thrown one in 2001 and John Wasdin one for Nashville in 2003. His first win at AAA had come in a perfect game. Parra won his next two starts and was 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA when Milwaukee came calling. Manny came up when Ben Sheets went on the Disabled List and Chris Spurling on the bereavement list.
Parra debuted in the majors on July 20, 2007, in the 8th inning of an 8-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants. He entered with Craig Counsell in a double switch as J.J. Hardy and Derrick Turnbow left. Parra struck out the first batter he faced, fellow rookie Guillermo Rodriguez. The Californian then retired all three batters he faced in the 9th, getting Kevin Frandsen to ground out and whiffing Dave Roberts and Omar Vizquel for a fine MLB debut. he only pitched 9 times for the Brewers that first season, including 2 starts, ending at 0-1, 3.76. In 2008, however, he became a member of the team's starting rotation and went 10-8, 4.39 in 32 games, including 29 starts, pitching 166 innings. He also hit .226/.255/.358, 6 of his 12 hits going for extra bases. His 17 wild pitches tied Tim Lincecum for the 2008 NL lead. The Brewers made their first postseason appearance in 16 years that year, and he pitched twice in relief against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS, allowing no runs in 2 1/3 innings.
After this solid debut in the big leagues, Parra struggled as a starter over the next two seasons. In 2009, his record was 11-11 in 27 starts, but that belied a bloated 6.36 ERA. He gave up way too many baserunners, with 179 hits and 77 walks in only 140 innings. His 99 earned runs allowed were 6th in the 2009 NL, between Derek Lowe and Jason Marquis. In 2010, his record did reflect his poor pitching, as he finished the season 3-10, 5.02 in 42 games. He tied Anibal Sanchez and Randy Wells for the most errors (5) by a pitcher in the 2010 NL and he was 4th with 14 wild pitches. He made 16 starts before being yanked from the starting rotation, and has been a full-time reliever in the major league since. However, that reconversion only came after he spent all of 2011 in the minor league, recovering from an arm ailment. He was a combined 1-1, 5.11, in 8 minor league appearances that year, missing the Brewers' best season in three decades as a result.
Parra was back in the big leagues in 2012, now as a middle reliever. He made 62 appearances out of the bullpen that season, finishing with a record of 2-3, 5.06 in 58 2/3 innings. He became a free agent after the season and signed a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds, with no guarantee of being used in the big leagues. He managed to have his best season in years, however, pitching 57 times in 2013, with another 2-3 record but a 3.33 ERA in 46 innings. After having been plagued by wildness in his first few seasons, he had finally mastered his control. His 56 strikeouts marked the third straight season he had struck out over a batter per inning, but what really made the difference was allowing only 15 walks, or 2.9 per 9 innings, the first time he had managed to keep his W/9 rate under 4.0. He returned to the postseason for the first time since 2008, pitching 233 of an inning in the Wild Card Game. Satisfied with his performance, the Reds re-signed him, this time to a two-year deal worth $5.5 million.