"We just felt he fit in the mix going into camp," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Thursday. "He's capable of starting, capable of pitching in the middle of the game, giving you some innings."
The Cubs head into camp with seven pitchers for five spots in the rotation and didn't want to rush some of the standout arms who are at the Double-A level, such as Andrew Cashner, Jay Jackson and Casey Coleman.
Having Parisi in the mix gives the Cubs someone to compete for the fifth spot in case one of the other pitchers gets hurt or Ted Lilly falls behind in his rehab from arthroscopic surgery, which he had in early November on his left shoulder.
The Cubs' rotation will be Lilly when he's ready, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and then one from a pool that includes Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and now Parisi.
The right-hander, who is coming back from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in August 2008, pitched for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League, and was 3-2 with a 4.44 ERA in seven games (six starts).
"He had some success early, had some hiccups when he first came up to the big leagues and seemed to right his ship when he came to the Fall League," Hendry said. "The Fall League is a pretty good segue into the Rule 5. If you're throwing pretty good down there, it's usually more hitters than good pitchers. A lot of guys put good offensive numbers up."
Parisi has pitched in the big leagues, making his debut May 5, 2008, against Colorado.
"It's a chance," Hendry said. "It's a $25,000 gamble and he'll give us some innings in camp if Teddy is running behind."
Teams pay $50,000 for each pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and the player must stay on the 25-man roster for the entire season. If Parisi is returned to the original club, the Cubs will get $25,000 back from the Cardinals.
Last year, the Cubs acquired pitcher David Patton in the Rule 5 Draft and he appeared in 20 games. Patton was hampered by a groin injury.
The Cubs only lost one Minor League player in the three phrases of Thursday's Draft, and that was right-handed pitcher Miguel Sierra, who was taken in the Triple-A phase by Tampa Bay. Sierra was 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 10 games (three starts) with the Mesa Rookie League team and posted a 13.06 ERA in five games (one start) at Class A Boise.
Hendry said he thought a team might draft catcher Robinson Chirinos, who was batting .344 with eight homers and 26 RBIs for Magallanes in Venezuela this winter. Chirinos was available in the Major League phase.
"It's hard for a Rule 5 catcher to stick [on a big league roster]," Hendry said. "[Chirinos] became a quality receiver when we converted him [from an infielder prior to 2009]."
The Cubs' 40-man roster now stands at 38 players.