Sometimes all an athlete needs is a change of scenery.
That was the definitely the case for 2011 Gig Harbor High graduate Parker Guinn, who went on to catch for the Washington Huskies. After three years at UW and not getting the kind of playing time he was hoping for, Guinn transferred to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Guinn, now a college senior, has enjoyed a breakout year at SIUE, batting .276 and leading the team with seven home runs. SIUE (12-7 overall, 12-6 Ohio Valley Conference) is currently in second place in conference.
Guinn has been named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List this year. The Johnny Bench Award is given annually to the best catcher in college baseball. Past winners include Buster Posey (2008) and Mike Zunino (2012).
"It’s a great honor," Guinn said via phone last week. "I’ve put in a lot of hard work. It’s nice to get some recognition for it, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s just an honor. I hope I can keep up my success and who knows, maybe win this thing. That’d be pretty cool."
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The decision to leave Washington wasn’t an easy one for Guinn.
"It was always going be a tough decision to make that change," Guinn said. "But I’ve had no regrets. The transition has been phenomenal — the coaching staff, teammates. I love the area. It’s been easier than I thought it’d be. I have no regrets whatsoever. I can’t say I’d change anything."
Guinn hasn’t improved on anything specific drastically. Rather, the breakout year has been more about getting ample playing time.
"Just being able to play — that was the one thing I felt I needed, just the opportunity to play every single day and improve in that aspect. I knew I had the skill set to be successful at this level. Playing time was the most important thing. I felt if I took the chance, I’d get to play and maybe keep playing after this year."
Leading the team in home runs has been a bit of a surprise for Guinn, who said he never considered himself much of a power hitter.
"I don’t know what happened," Guinn said. "I changed my approach a bit at the plate. I’ve put in a lot of work in the weight room; it’s nice to see it translate. I don’t know where it’s really coming from. I’m just getting at bats and getting stronger. That was a big thing for me."
Guinn is hoping his big season will catapult him into playing professional baseball.
"I definitely want to (play professionally)," Guinn said. "If it doesn’t work out, I may just go into coaching. Long term, I want to coach. But I’m going to keep playing for as long as possible. That’s the dream and I want to keep it alive."
Guinn is studying TV and radio mass communication and minoring in business. He said he’s also interested in exploring a career in the communications field, maybe in sports radio. For now, he’s just enjoying his senior season.
"I always felt I had the tools to be successful — I just wanted an opportunity to play," Guinn said. "Everything worked out well."