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At 5-feet-10 and 160 pounds, left-hander Jim Parque is one of the smallest pitchers in the major leagues. Yet he has quickly established himself as a solid American League starter.
Parque, an All-American at UCLA and a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, advanced quickly through the White Sox system after being drafted in the second round in 1997.
Success did not come easily to Parque. He developed a strong work ethic from his father and constantly analyzes his mechanics and mental approach. As a Youth League and High School player in Crescenta Valley, Calif., Parque and his father would remain at the field long after a game was over, making adjustments while his performance was still fresh in their minds.
He described to PPGSports the pitching philosophy he employs as an emerging Major League star with the Chicago White Sox.
"I establish my fastball early in the game so that it makes the rest of my pitches look that much sharper and that much slower,'' Parque said. "That in turn makes my fastball that much better.
"The number one aspect of throwing the fastball is control. You have to spot it. It's easier to hit a 94 mph fastball down the middle than an 86 mph fastball low and outside or up and in.
"Location and movement are more important than velocity. Movement will actually give you more velocity on your fastball in the hitter's mind. Obviously, it's not faster; it just gives the hitter more planes to worry about when he swings at your pitch.