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Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 08/18/2011

From the Farm: Rockies prospect Kyle Parker thrives after choosing baseball

Football appears to be out of former Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker’s system, and he could be on his way to continuing a Colorado Rockies tradition.

The organization has made a habit of turning quarterbacks into major leaguers. The best example is first baseman Todd Helton, who started at Tennessee before his injury moved Peyton Manning into the job. Also, outfielder Seth Smith backed up Eli Manning at Mississippi. Former Rockies star Matt Holliday was an all-American high school signal caller before signing to play baseball.

Colorado even drafted Michael Vick, who never suited up for the baseball team at Virginia Tech.

At Clemson, Parker became the first Division I player to hit 20 home runs and throw 20 touchdown passes in the same academic year. The Rockies took him in the first round of last year’s major league draft and signed him for $1.4 million, but they still allowed him to play his redshirt sophomore season for the Tigers’ football program.

Parker, who led Clemson to a bowl win as a freshman, broke some ribs in the first half of the Tigers’ bowl loss last season to South Florida. The premature ending to his college football career has not set him back with the South Atlantic League’s Tourists. The strong-armed right fielder is tied for the league lead with 86 RBI while hitting .277 with a .358 on-base percentage and a .479 slugging percentage.

“I enjoy coming out every day and playing,” Parker told the Savannah Morning News this week. He also said he wasn’t missing preseason football practice.

Meanwhile, one of his Tourists teammates from this season was back in pads as the new starting quarterback at Wisconsin. Russell Wilson, a fourth-round baseball pick who signed for a $200,000 bonus last year, hit .228 in 61 games for Asheville. The second baseman who had far less college baseball experience stole 15 bases in 17 tries but also struck out 82 times in 193 at-bats. He could still return to the Rockies organization.

Wilson was able to transfer because he had graduated from North Carolina State, which is handing the reins to former Westfield High star Mike Glennon.

By Lacy Lusk  |  11:14 AM ET, 08/18/2011

 
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