His older brother Josh is already in minor league baseball, but first baseman Jordan Parr still has brother Justin with him in the Illinois starting lineup.
CHAMPAIGN -- His older brother Josh is already in minor league baseball, but first baseman Jordan Parr still has brother Justin with him in the Illinois starting lineup.
"It's indescribable,'' Jordan said. "He's my best friend. He knows everything about me. I know everything about him.''
There's nothing like a bond between twins.
But this might be the last weekend on the field together for the Parr brothers, the former Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central High School stars. With Illinois needing to take the series against Minnesota and get some help from Indiana vs. Ohio State, the Illini might not earn a spot in the six-team Big Ten Tournament and get a chance to defend their conference tournament title.
If not, the Parrs will wait for the major league draft and decide on their futures. Josh, a former Illini shortstop, went in the 12th round to the Arizona Diamondbacks in June after his junior year. He spent a season in Missoula, Mont., where he suffered a broken cheekbone, and now plays for the South Bend Silver Hawks in the Midwest League.
Jordan – a redshirt sophomore - and Justin – a junior - may have the same decision in roughly a month.
"They're a real intriguing package of physical skills,'' said Ben Diggle, a Peoria-based associate scout for the Cincinnati Reds who also served as the Parr twins' summer coach years ago. "It's one of those deals where you don't see that kind of stuff come along very often.''
Justin's throwing arm was clocked at 95 mph on the radar gun, and Jordan ran a 6.59 in the 60-yard dash, according to Diggle. It would likely take a spot in the first 15 rounds of the draft and a big payday to lure the Parrs away from the Illini.
Heading into the final series, Jordan leads the Illini and ranked eighth in the Big Ten while batting .354. The first baseman also leads the Illini in homers (five) and RBIs (42). He hit .355 at Parkland College, a junior college in Champaign, last season after redshirting in his only season at Illinois State.
"I needed to get better at plate discipline,'' Jordan said. "My approach at the plate was terrible. In high school and junior college, I was just hunting fastballs. They wanted to make me a hitter with better pitch selection, going deeper in counts, having better balance, seeing the off-speed better.''
Justin led the Big Ten in hitting last season with a .411 average in league play. Moved to third in the batting order, the left fielder is hitting .289 this season but with more RBIs (37 compared with 32 last year). Big Ten pitchers have a book on him now.
"Guys worked around me a little more,'' he said. "Last year, I had more fastballs. This year, guys really attacked me with off-speed, trying to keep the ball low and away and trying to get me to chase more.''
There's still a learning curve for the Parr twins, Illini coach Dan Hartleb said.
"They're great athletes, and they've gotten better with the game of baseball,'' Hartleb said. "There have been mechanical things Jordan had to adjust. Now he's just trying to learn a new position. At times, Justin struggled at the plate. If you look at his average, it might not be as high, but he's been more productive in other areas.''
As a junior, Justin would have less leverage next spring if he doesn't jump to the professional baseball now. Jordan, a redshirt sophomore, still has a three-year draft window to give himself more of bargaining power.
"Jordan is having a nice year, proving what he can do at this level,'' Diggle said. "The three-year draft window will factor how teams evaluate him.
"Justin has the body of work, leading the Big Ten in hitting last year. The only thing giving me a pause right now is, has he plateaued or does he keep getting better.''
NOTE: After losing five of their last six Big Ten games, Illinois (26-24 overall, 9-12 in Big Ten) is eighth in the league standings. Illinois must win two more games than Ohio State during the final weekend of Big Ten play to earn a spot in the six-team conference tournament. If the Illini sweep visiting Minnesota, Illinois earns a bid only if Ohio State wins one game or fewer vs. Indiana. If the Illini win two games, Ohio State could clinch a berth with one win against Indiana. Illinois hosts Minnesota on Thursday through Saturday.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnSupinie.