Even as a member of one of Class 3A’s elite baseball programs, Grantsville senior Parker Thomas stands out as a legitimate star.
So much so, in fact, that it was impossible for Salt Lake Community College to ignore his talent, despite his small-town roots. On Tuesday night, Thomas signed a national Letter-of-Intent to join the Bruins for their 2021 season, joining a top-level junior-college program with his sights set on someday playing at the Division I level.
“I was talking to a couple coaches, and I was really impressed with the SLCC coaches and how they followed me throughout the summer,” Thomas said. “I went on my visit during the summer and I was really impressed with the school and I heard really good things from other people who had gone there. That played a big part in it.”
Thomas joins an elite group of Utah high school players who have earned scholarships to play baseball at the collegiate level. According to Grantsville coach Aaron Perkins, roughly 8% of all high school baseball players in the state earned scholarships last year, making Thomas’ accomplishment all the more impressive.
“Parker’s put a lot of work into this journey that he’s had, between the 6 a.m. lifting workouts and the training he’s done in Salt Lake and playing almost year-round baseball,” Perkins said. “Parker’s getting what he deserves it. He’s put the time in and he deserves the chance to prove himself at the next level. I’m excited about that for him and for Grantsville baseball.”
Thomas has certainly earned the opportunity. Last season, the two-time First Team All-State selection was named the Region 13 Most Valuable Player after hitting .488 with two home runs, 15 doubles, three triples, 30 runs batted in, eight stolen bases and 29 runs scored. He also posted a .953 fielding percentage while splitting time between third base and center field, and he went 5-2 on the pitcher’s mound with a 2.35 earned-run average in 50 2/3 innings. He recorded 66 strikeouts and walked 14, and opposing batters hit .256 against him.
“He’s improved every year he’s been in this program,” Perkins said. “It just shows that it’s because he continues to put in the amount of time necessary. I’ve never seen Parker take a day off in this program. Whether he’s successful or unsuccessful, whether he has a good at-bat or a bad at-bat, he always is going to give his best effort.”
Thomas also played a key role for the Cowboys’ 2018 Class 3A state championship team. In the final game against Carbon, Thomas allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two in the Cowboys’ 12-4 win. That season, he hit .337 with six home runs, eight doubles, a triple, 30 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and 35 runs scored. Even as a freshman who had an uneven introduction to varsity-level baseball, he hit a massive home run in a playoff game that is still talked about in Grantsville.
“I’ve seen it all,” Thomas said. “My sophomore year, we went all the way, and I kind of saw what it took to have a team of that caliber … how you should be a leader. I’ve been in all situations and all sorts of games.”
Thomas plans on studying construction management at SLCC for the next two years before continuing his baseball career at a four-year school.
“SLCC usually has a pretty good program, so I wanted to be a part of that program,” he said. “Since I was eight years old, it’s kind of been a grind ever since. I came to find out that baseball is my true passion, and after my freshman year, it was kind of non-stop — hitting in the winter and all that fun stuff.”
Perkins is looking toward to seeing what Thomas can do with the Bruins, but he is also thankful that he gets to write Thomas’ name in his own lineup this coming spring as the Cowboys hope to contend for another state title.
“I think Salt Lake Community College is going to be a good fit for him,” Perkins said. “It’s a good baseball league and I think he’ll get a chance to play there right away, which is going to be good for him. In my opinion, Parker will play at a Division I school.
“Parker is easy to coach. He’s always been receptive to our philosophy and things we want to do in our program. He’s never acted like he’s above our program. Parker’s going to play outfield in college, and he’s been such a good team player that we haven’t played him in the outfield. He’s been the ultimate team guy and played positions that we’ve needed him to play. That just shows what kind of kid he is.”