Saluki senior ready to start new baseball career

Saluki senior ready to start new baseball career

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

SIU senior outfielder Parker Osborne’s college playing days are coming to a close, but this summer he will embark upon the next chapter of his baseball career.

Osborne will spend the summer as a bench coach for the Walla Walla Sweets, a collegiate summer team in Washington state for which he hit .254 with 4 home runs and 29 RBIs last summer.

Osborne said his previous experience with the Sweets made his return an easy choice.


“I love that place,” Osborne said. “I know a lot of people, the management, the front office and everyone there, so it just ended up working out perfectly.”

The city of Walla Walla and Borleske Stadium will be familiar sights for Osborne, but not the only ones.

Three of Osborne’s Saluki teammates: sophomore second baseman Connor Kopach, sophomore center fielder Dyllin Mucha and freshman pitcher Michael Baird will suit up for the 2015 Sweets.

Osborne helped Sweets Chief Operating Officer Zachary Fraser get in touch with Saluki assistant coach Ryan Strain to set those three up in Walla Walla before he decided to return.

Baird’s eyes lit up when asked about the prospects of playing for his current teammate.

“I’m totally looking forward to it,” Baird said. “I’ve gotten to know Parker pretty well this year. He’s been a real good role model to me.”

Osborne turned down a similar position with the Front Royal (Va.) Cardinals, where SIU freshmen third baseman Greg Lambert, catcher Nick Hutchins and center fielder Braden Mosley are slated to play. Walla Walla offered Osborne more money to man the bench in Washington state.


Sweets manager Frank Mutz, who will be in his first season with the team, said a main factor in bringing Osborne back to Walla Walla was Osborne’s popularity.

“If you allow the community to embrace you, you will have more people on your side in the community,” Mutz said.  “When you come to bat, the fans will make more noise for you. I believe Parker has done that.”

Mutz said he hoped having three former teammates on the roster would help Osborne into a coaching role.

““That would be a good thing,” he said. “The challenge will be separating himself as a player and a coach. If there comes a time when things aren’t going well, he’ll need to tell them things need to change.”

SIU coach Ken Henderson said he would have brought Osborne back as an assistant coach next spring if Osborne had another year of school to finish.

“I didn’t realize he was supposed to graduate this summer,” Henderson said. “I would love to have him as a student assistant.”

Mutz said while he is looking forward to having Osborne on his coaching staff, he would be more than happy for Osborne if he left the Sweets for an opportunity in the minor leagues.

Osborne is SIU’s leading hitter at .321 and is second on the team with 19 RBIs. The Salukis’ hottest hitter, he is batting .397 in his last 19 games and has raised his average from .156.

He said he would forego the opportunity if he got drafted, but said there is no chance of that happening. 

In addition to learning how to coach players, Osborne will be learning the ins and outs of the front office operations in Walla Walla. He said he sees himself making a career out of coaching baseball.

“It’s basically an internship,” Osborne said. “I’m using it as my starting point.”

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.