Richard Blake Parker
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 200 lb.
- School University of Arkansas
- High School Fayetteville (AR) High School
- Debut May 17, 2012
Parker began his career as a catcher. He hit .431 with 28 home runs in high school and also pitched (10-2, 2.03). His team won the state title in 2003. In 2004, he hit .303/.374/.345 as a college freshman. He produced at a .250/.335/.530 clip with 9 home runs in 2005. That fall, he played for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League. In 2006, he fell to .246/.325/.401. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2006 amateur draft, being signed by scout Brian Milner.
He split his first season as a pro between the 2006 AZL Cubs (.262/.367/.429 in 39 G) and Peoria Chiefs (0 for 21, 8 K). He caught and played both first base and third base. He was named the Arizona League All-Star catcher. He became a pitcher in 2007, splitting time between the AZL Cubs (11 games) and Boise Hawks (8 games), going a combined 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA. In 2008, he played for three teams - the Peoria Chiefs (23 games), the Daytona Cubs (20 games), and the Iowa Cubs (two games) - going 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA and 12 saves in 45 games combined. In 71 2/3 innings, he allowed only 50 hits while striking out 75 batters. He split the 2009 season between the Tennessee Smokies (10 games) and Iowa Cubs (45 games), going a combined 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA, saving 25 games in 55 appearances. In 63 1/3 innings, Parker allowed 44 hits and struck out 77 batters. He held right-handed batters to a .160 batting average. He was 5th in the 2009 PCL in saves.
He began the 2010 season with the Iowa Cubs. He slumped from the year before, going 1-4 with two saves and a 4.74 ERA in 35 games for Iowa, with 28 walks and 52 hits in 49 1/3 IP. With Tennessee that year, he was 0-1 with 5 saves and a 2.65 ERA, fanning 25 in 17 innings. He split 2011 between the same two clubs, going 1-2 with 3 saves and a 4.12 ERA for the Smokies and 3-3 with 4 saves and a 2.81 ERA for Iowa. His 53 games pitched were second in the Cubs chain behind Jeff Beliveau. He began 2012 again with Iowa, going 1-0 with five saves and a 2.08 ERA in his first 13 games. He then was called up to the majors as Scott Maine was sent down.
In his big league debut, the Arkansas alumnus entered in the top of the 7th with a 5-1 deficit against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 17, 2012. He struck out Ty Wigginton then allowed a Hector Luna single before Freddy Galvis hit into a twin killing. Things were worse in the 8th. Opposing hurler Roy Halladay began with a single, then Jimmy Rollins walked. After a passed ball, Parker retired Juan Pierre and struck out Shane Victorino. Hunter Pence grounded back to Parker, who made a two-run throwing error. Michael Bowden promptly replaced the rookie on the hill. He put up an ERA of 6.00 in 7 appearances that season. He had a solid rookie season in 2013, however, as his ERA was a solid 2.72 in 49 games covering 46 1/3 innings. He also recorded his first major league save that season while going 1-2. However, he fell back in 2014, with an ERA of 5.14 in 18 games. He spent the 2015 season in the minors, then signed as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners before the 2016 season.
He played just one game with Seattle then was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees in early August and was given a longer look, going 1-0, 4.96 in 16 games. At the end of the season, the Los Angeles Angels, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Angels claimed him off waivers in turn. He ended up with the Angels and put up a couple of successful seasons for them in 2017 and 2018. The first year, he was 3-3, 2.54 in 71 games and picked up 8 saves, and the second he increased that total to 14 saves, with a record of 2-1, 3.26 in 67 games. His save total easily led the club. He became a free agent after the 2018 season and signed with the Minnesota Twins for 2019. He started the year as the team's closer and had a very good first month with 6 saves and an ERA of 0.96 in March and April. Things also went well in May, but his ERA jumped to 7.59 in June as Taylor Rogers displaced him in the role of closer. When the team's entire bullpen imploded in July, just as the Cleveland Indians were closing in on Minnesota, eating away at the large lead they had built in the early going, he was one of the relievers dumped in a search for better performance. On July 23rd, he gave up 4 runs while retiring just one batter in a 14-12 loss to the New York Yankees and was designated for assignment after the game, as it was not possible to send him down to the minors. On July 30th, the Philadelphia Phillies signed him as a free agent.