Glenn Sparkman is a pitcher who has survived Tommy John and made his major league debut last year for the Blue Jays. The Royals lost Sparkman in the Rule 5 draft last winter and regained him when the Jays didn’t have room on their 25-man roster anymore. Sparkman broke his thumb during spring training with the Jays which allowed them to keep him on their roster even longer because he maxed out his rehab time. He was taken by the Royals in the 20th round out of Wharton County CC in 2013. He turns 26 during the 2018 season and has done a really good job limiting walks during his minor league career while averaging almost a K per inning. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him pitch several times through the years at Northwest Arkansas.
As far as a prospect, Sparkman has a really good four pitch mix that profiles him as a backend rotation guy. He throws a good 2-seamer that sits 93-95. The 4-seamer works at the same velo but can get flat (it did against the Jays later) so he has to maintain the tilt on it. Being “only” 6’2”, Sparkman has to make sure that downward angle is there consistently. I remember seeing late life on his pitches in NWA the year before and in one of his starts there last year. Sparkman also throws a 12-6 curve which is around 78 and a slider that moves more down and across (1:30 to 7:30) at about 86. He finishes out his repertoire with a solid change that has armside run and comes in between 84 and 86. It is a solid weapon against LHHs.
I went back and watched Sparkman’s film from his June 30 debut in the Canadian Day reds the Blue Jays wear during the holiday homestand. I also watched his second outing against the same red hot Red Sox team two days later. The first thing I want to point out is the BABIP against him was insane! The Jays failed to make play after play and just hung the kid out. In his MLB debut, Sparkman ended up getting a GIDP ball after giving his defense an earlier chance to get out of the 11th inning. In Sparkman’s second outing, he again, did not get the best the Blue Jays defense had to offer. I’m not talking error after error, I’m talking about being out of position or slow to a ball by a step or two, about getting a bad read off the bat, about some bad luck on a dive, or the two turf hops he got. Sparkman started the 7th inning by giving up a leadoff broken bat single off of Pillar’s glove as he dove in on the ball. Sparkman then completely fooled JBJ on a CH away and gave up an infield single off the plate. He proceeded to make a great pitch and give up a bloop single in front of Jose Bautista to load the bases. He then showed off the 95 mph 2-seamer away with a swinging strikeout. At that point, he could have legitimately been out of the inning. This is when things got crazy. After he gave up a ground rule double over Bautista’s head where the outfielder was playing overly shallow, allowed a solid single up the middle on a curve away, gave up a bloop single that turned into a double when it bounced over Pearce’s head in left emptying the bases, and he finished his day by giving ground rule double that bounced into the stands that Bautista just couldn’t quite get too. But the good news is only one ball was squared up. Everything else was weak contact on decent pitches or bad luck.
The Royals will probably bump Sparkman up to the Storm Chasers rotation and allow him to work the year in Omaha. They will need to put him on the 40 man at some point as well but there will be a few openings in the few days after the World Series is over. He’s already done more than many get the chance too, but he will continue to develop and get an opportunity to pitch at the MLB level for someone going forward.
Photo Credits: Logan Bowles