BY STEVE KRAH
Parker Dunshee made a decision in the middle of 2016 and it led to a fruitful baseball season in 2017 — at the collegiate and professional levels.
The 2013 Zionsville Community High School graduate was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 14th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft after his junior season at Wake Forest.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-hander was the Demon Deacons’ Friday starter and went 10-5 with a 3.20 earned run average. He struck out 102 in 101 1/3 innings with three game of 10 or more strikeouts and seven games of eight K’s or better.
Dunshee pondered the possibility of going pro and heading back to college for his senior year and he chose to return to Winston-Salem, N.C.
The move allowed him to complete his finance degree and enjoy a special senior campaign on the diamond.
Team captain Dunshee went 9-1 with a 3.91 ERA as Wake’s Friday starter. He fanned 111 batters in 103 2/3 innings and helped the Deacs to the program’s first super regional appearance since 1999.
For his four-year career, Dunshee went 28-10 with a 3.20 and a school-record 330 strikeouts in 326 1/3 — a rate of 9.1 per nine innings. He also was a four-time honoree on the all-Atlantic Coast Conference academic team.
In an interview in the Fall 2017 Inside Pitch Magazine, Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter calls Dunshee a competitor and a bulldog.
“You didn’t want to let him down,” Walter told the American Baseball Coaches Association publication.
“He was an awesome coach to play for,” says Dunshee. “He knows how to get the best out of guys. He’s intense when he needs to be intense and light-hearted when he needs to be light-hearted. I’m glad to be part of his coaching legacy.”
Dunshee credits Deacons pitching coach Matt Hobbs for making important changes to his delivery when the coach arrived on campus for the 2015 season.
“He overhauled my style,” says Dunshee of Hobbs. “He helped me to get back to being athletic in my throwing and athletic on the mound. He does not try to box all pitchers into one style of pitching. He sees what you need personally to be the best you can be.”
Dunshee, who turns 23 on Feb. 12, keeps his motion simple with little hand or upper body movement. There is a momentum swing from left to right, a toe tap and he lifts and goes.
“The best deliveries you don’t have to think about,” says Dunshee. “It’s arm speed and intent.”
When the MLB Draft came back around, Dunshee was chosen in the seventh round by the Oakland Athletics. He signed and headed to Arizona for his physical and his first chance to toe the rubber as a pro.
His pro debut was a rough one. He gave up three runs and five hits, including a home run, in a two-inning stint with Arizona League Athletics.
In a combined 40 1/3 innings in the AZL and NYPL, Dunshee continued to attack pro hitters like he did amateurs and fanned 48 and walked eight while posting a 1-0 record and a 0.67 earned run average. Opponents hit .146.
“I had a pretty good summer statistically speaking,” says Dunshee, who made 12 appearance with Vermont (nine as a starter).
What about the streak?
“You don’t think about throwing up a bunch of scoreless innings in a row,” says Dunshee. “The goal is to get a zero each inning no matter what. It’s about throwing strikes and being aggressive.
“There aren’t any secrets. I’m just trying to execute what I do to the best of my ability. The strikeouts are a product of being ahead in counts and first-pitch strikes.”
He takes pride in throwing strikes and keeping his walk count low.
Dunshee estimates that he used his fastball (usually a four-seamer) about 65 to 70 percent of the time and tossed a slider 15 to 20 percent and a change-up (a two-seamer) about 10 to 15 percent.
“I attack people with fastballs and try to locate it well,” says Dunshee. “The Athletics like you to develop a change-up and incorporate it more. So I’ll be working on that.”
Bryan Corey, a former big league pitcher and member of the World Series-winning 2007 Boston Red Sox, was the Lake Monsters pitching coach.
“He didn’t try to make everybody do the same thing,” says Dunshee of Corey. “He put in extra time to help you. He was an open book and always ready to talk. He communicated with the pitching staff.”
With Dunshee’s heavy college workload, the Athletics had him on an innings restriction. All together, he tossed 143 1/3 frames in 2017.
“That was definitely the most I’ve ever thrown in my life,” says Dunshee, who was shut down and came back to Zionsville rather than the original plan of going to the fall instructional league. “I felt strong throughout it, but I was definitely ready for a rest.”
Dunshee says there will be no such restriction in 2018.
Of late, he has been hitting the weights and will soon begin his off-season throwing program. He works out at The Yard — a facility in Carmel partially owned by Conrad Gregor (a minor league free agent).
At Zionsville, Dunshee was a two-time all-Hoosier Crossroads Conference selection in baseball and was all-HCC and academic all-state in his senior football season. As a quarterback, he set seven school passing records.
Busy with football and basketball in the summers, Dunshee did not play extensive travel baseball in his younger years. That changed thanks to the Moore brothers — Jered and Quinn.
“The Moores) know a lot about the game,” says Dunshee. “They taught me that when you play the right way, you get rewarded. huge in getting me into the Indiana Bulls. That organization gets you in front of the right people.”
Dunshee pitched for Bulls in the summers of 2011, 2012 and 2013. Jered Moore is now head coach at Zionsville.
While at Wake, Dunshee competed for the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwoods League in 2014 and the Chatham Anglers in the Cape Cod League in 2015. When he opted not to sign after the 2016 draft, he did not play that summer.
Parker Dunshee, a Zionsville Community High School and Wake Forest University graduate, was a New York-Penn League all-star in 2017 with the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Oakland Athletics organization. It was his first season in professional baseball. (Vermont Lake Monsters Photo)