If Kevin Parada wanted to turn pro and enter the 2020 MLB Draft, he could have been a first or second-round pick. However, in the shortened five-round draft, the California native told teams that he was going to fulfill his commitment to Georgia Tech, which might as well be known as “Catcher University.”
Parada joined the list of talented Georgia Tech catchers, headlined by Jason Varitek, Matt Wieters and Joey Bart. As a draft-eligible sophomore, he was named a Golden Spikes finalist, which is awarded to the best college player in the nation. In 60 games, he produced a slash-line of .361/.453/.709 with a school record 26 home runs, and a near even 30/32 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
After the Mets opted against signing 2021 first-round pick Kumar Rocker, they had the unique opportunity of having two first round picks in the 2022 MLB Draft. The No. 11 pick was a compensatory pick for not signing Rocker, and the No. 14 pick was their normal pick, which was used on shortstop Jett Williams.
Leading into the 2022 draft, Parada was considered to be a Top 5 talent in the class. He was often connected to both the Texas Rangers (third pick) and Washington Nationals (fifth pick).
Every year there are players who dip in the draft for one reason or another. When Parada made his way outside of the top 10, the Mets, who were armed with extra draft capital and bonus pool money, decided to take the best player available with the 11th pick despite already having catcher Francisco Álvarez in the system.
This is a credit to the Mets’ scouting department, as I am a firm believer in drafting the best talent available, and you can figure everything else out later. If the worst-case scenario is the Mets have two high-end catchers, they could certainly be in a worse spot.
As a draft-eligible sophomore, Parada had more negotiating power to demand a certain bonus figure, due to his two remaining years of college eligibility. Despite that, the Mets were able to reach a deal with Parada, who was being advised by former Mets catcher Mike Nickeas. The sides agreed on a $5,019,735 signing bonus, which is the largest signing bonus outside of the Top 10 picks in the bonus-pool era of the MLB draft.
He has immediately ranked highly on Top 100 prospect lists, coming in as the 37th ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list. The reason for that is largely around his offensive potential.
Parada had an unorthodox setup in college, like he was almost lugging a backpack over his shoulder, and the Mets have quieted that down a bit right away. That was very noticeable in his first stint with Low-A St. Lucie. As he progresses through the minors, the fewer moving parts you have, the better off you will be against both velocity and breaking balls.
Every time Parada steps into the box, you can tell he has a plan up there. He has above-average bat-to-ball skills and a well above-average eye at the plate. He broke out a bit in the power department this year, and there is the belief he has 20-25 home runs power in his future.
Defensively, he is going to need some work. Right now, he’s an average-to-slightly above-average receiver with fringe arm strength for the position. Last year at Georgia Tech, he only threw out 12 percent of base runners.
Parada does have a reputation for his work ethic and leadership abilities, so the belief is that he will be able to maximize his potential defensively. He’s a good enough receiver that he should be able to stick behind the plate as a bat-first catcher.
In 2023, I would expect Parada — who was invited to sprign training — to begin the year with High-A Brooklyn and have the possibility to reach Double-A Binghamton by the end of the season.
A focus for the Mets will be to continue his development defensively and just let him do his thing at the plate. It is not outside of the realm of possibility that a year from now Parada is in the conversation to be the top catching prospect in the sport.