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Conversations with the Herd: Wes Parsons

By: Brian Frank

Wes Parsons’ journey to Sahlen Field was a winding one. Even his high school playing career didn’t take a traditional path. He didn’t play on his high school baseball team until his junior year. He spent his first two years of high school on the golf team.

“My high school coach came and bothered me every single day to get me out there,” he said in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “And I had a good buddy, his name is Chase – he owns a gym that I work at back home – he was out there too trying to get me to come over there (to play baseball) too.”

“I was a two-way player in high school. I think everybody is a two-way player in high school. I didn’t really start pitching full time until freshman year of junior college.”

Parsons on the Sahlen Field mound. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bisons Baseball Club

After graduating from Clarksville High School in Tennessee, Parsons attended Jacksonville Community College, where he went 7-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 13 games. Following his freshman season, he playedfor the Thunder Bay Bordercats in the Northwoods League, a summer wooden bat league. He made the league’s All-Star team, going 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 55 innings pitched.

“I got elected to the Northwoods League All-Star Game, pitched, and did well, and when I came back to my phone I had a bunch of calls.”

Those calls led to him signing with the Atlanta Braves as an undrafted free agent. He worked his way up through the Braves minor-league system and made his major-league debut in a game at Washington in 2018. He pitched in 17 games for the 2019 Braves, before being claimed by the Colorado Rockies, where he made 15 relief appearances. Then came a big change. He signed with the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) for the 2021 season.

“I was always interested in going over there and always told my agent if there’s ever an opportunity I’d love to go there,” he explained. “I think it was about three years later and the Dinos called and said they were interested. So I jumped on that as fast as possible.”

He enjoyed his two seasons pitching overseas.

“It was good to get out and experience the culture and how they do things,” he said. “The baseball over there is similar. It’s 60 feet six inches. It’s just a lot of fun over there – the fans, the music. The crowds are awesome. It’s really just like a concert the whole time.”

“It’s very playbook over there. When there’s runners on first and second, you’re bunting pretty much every single time. I guess you could say they like playing small ball.”

The reigning I.L. Pitcher of the Week. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

He experienced a lot of success with the Dinos. In 2021, he had a 3.72 ERA in 24 starts, striking out 148 batters in 133 innings pitched. He got off to another great start in 2022, with a 3.56 ERA in eight starts, before suffering an injury that ultimately ended his time in South Korea.

“My first year, I was just trying to find the zone again,” he said. “I kind of lost it for a little bit. Then the second year, I was doing well and I actually got hurt in May of last year and then ended up having back surgery last October. So that whole year was kind of a waste. I think the back surgery was the thing that kind of got me back into everything and kind of drove me.”

He spent the winter rehabbing from his surgery and training with Tread Athletics, a pitching development company based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I kind of revamped myself,” he said. “It was a very, very long offseason for me. It was like seven months before I was able to sign. They came and helped me revamp everything. It’s been a whirlwind.”

Parsons signed with the Blue Jays organization in the offseason and has now made four starts for the Bisons. His most recent outing may have been the best start by any Bisons pitcher so far this season. He fired six shutout innings against Worcester, allowing only three hits and no walks, while tying a career high in strikeouts with nine. He was credited with his first win in the United States in exactly four years. His dominant performance led to him being named International League Pitcher of the Week.

“It means a lot,” he said of the honor. “Ever since my back surgery, it’s been emotional. The other day was emotional for me. Coming out of there six innings strong, it really meant a lot.”


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