tampabay.com

Bulldog shows off on the mound, at the plate

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published May 30, 2007


To hear Zephyrhills' Geoff Parker tell it, the home run he hit last weekend at the Perfect Game National Academy Showcase still hasn't landed.

"Close to 500 feet, " said Parker, and considering some of the bombs he hit this season, who wants to doubt him?

Parker's home run, the only one hit all weekend at a showcase featuring some of the state's best prospects, drew enough oohs and ahhs that no matter how long it really was, it left an indelible imprint on the folks who saw it.

Parker was one of a handful of players to shine in the event at Vero Beach, along with Bulldogs teammate Dylan Giella and Pasco's pitching duo of Dustin Brown and Aaron Brandt.

Though signed with Florida State, Parker may have improved his draft stock with his performance.

Playing for a team coached by former Saint Leo pitching coach Daniel Hersey, Parker threw a one-hitter and struck out 10 in his pitching performance against the Florida Hardballers, which was coached by Kevin Maris, son of Yankee legend Roger.

His fastball was clocked as high as 90 mph, and he earned the 1-0 win over highly regarded pitching prospect Brian Ellington of Gainesville, a rising senior.

Parker's performance helped earn him a number of invites from summer league coaches hoping to bolster their rosters.

But he was set on playing for a team, and his pitching and hitting performance helped nail down a spot on the roster of the Ohio Warhawks, a summer league team that counts major leaguers Pat Burrell, Brian Roberts, Brandon Phillips and Aaron Hill as former players.

As for the home run, that came the very next game against the Central Florida Renegades on a high inside fastball that Parker turned on to the delight of teammates.

"I don't think they expected it, " Parker said. "But they went crazy."

Giella played third base and outfield in three games, though a rib injury - it turned out to be bruised cartilage - slowed him. Giella, a rising senior who is expected to be one of Pasco County's top hitters next season, was 1-for-2 with an RBI before a swing caused his injury, and he turned in a couple of nice defensive plays after that.

Brandt, a rising senior at Pasco, picked up a win against the All-American Prospects, throwing five innings and allowing three hits and an earned run. He was clocked at 84-86 mph.

Brown, also a rising senior at Pasco, played rightfield and showed off his vaunted right arm by throwing out a runner trying to advance to third on a pop fly. On the mound, Brown threw three innings in relief and was clocked in the 86-88 range.