With the 2022 MLB amateur draft approaching on July 17, we will continue taking looks at some potential draft prospects for the Royals at #9. I last wrote about Gavin Cross, an outfielder out of Virginia Tech with a solid hit tool and plus power. Today, we’ll look at one of the most advanced offensive prospects that also happens to play catcher: Kevin Parada.
Parada hails from Pasadena, California. He racked up accolades for Loyola High School baseball in Los Angeles, as well as on the showcase circuit. Parada rated as one of the top prep prospects available in the 2020 draft, with MLB Pipeline ranking him 48th overall. He was set on attending Georgia Tech (the same school that produced Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters), however, and went undrafted in the truncated five-round event.
In his first game as a Yellow Jacket, Parada began his collegiate career with a walk in his first plate appearance and a double later in the game. He went 4-for-4 with a homer in his next start, then went 4-for-4 again and fell a homer shy of the cycle in the very next game. By March, the freshman was regularly batting third in the lineup. Despite Parada’s hitting, Georgia Tech had a rather disappointing season, but still qualified for tournament play as a #2 seed in the Nashville Regional. The Jackets went 2-2, falling to host Vanderbilt in the Regional final. Parada went 4-for-19 with a walk and two homers in postseason play. Overall in 2021, Parada slashed .318/.379/.550 with 20 doubles and nine homers in 52 games. He was named a 2021 Freshman All-American by D1Baseball, Collegiate Baseball, and Perfect Game.
Expected to be one of the best players in the country in 2022, Parada did not disappoint. He came out of the gates on fire, beginning the season with a ten-game hit streak, a span in which he had more multi-hit games (six) than strikeouts (four). He began turning his doubles into homers, surpassing his 2021 total on March 29, his 26th game of the season. Parada was the best hitter in a strong lineup for a team that, for the second straight season, disappointed and entered the Tournament as a #2 seed in the Knoxville Regional.
In the spirit of déjà vu, Georgia Tech went 2-2, falling to host Tennessee in the Regional Final. Parada went 8-for-19 in postseason play, though with just one extra-base hit. Overall in 2022, he slashed .361/.453/.709 with 10 doubles and 26 homers in 60 games. He also swiped 11 bases and was caught just once. Parada was a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award (both of which ultimately went to Ivan Melendez) and won the Johnny Bench Award and Buster Posey Award for top catcher.
Parada was widely expected to be one of the top players available in the draft prior to the season, and that remains true as he’s unanimously seen as a top ten prospect:
D1Baseball ($): 3 (among college players)
Keith Law ($): 7
Kiley McDaniel ($): 6
The first thing that stands out about Parada is his set-up at the plate, which is... unorthodox.
Kevin Parada | @GTBaseball— PG College Baseball (@PGCollegeBall) April 28, 2022
No. 3 overall #PGDraft & No. 1 college prospect
Parada is currently slashing .385/469/.791 & leads the country w/ 21 HRs. “One can argue Parada has the best hit tool in the draft class” full report here: https://t.co/oRqMJXFGod pic.twitter.com/IZq7pGtT7q
Parada was hit-over-power in 2021, but he massively increased his pop in 2022, going from a .232 ISO to .348. This did not come at the expense of the hit tool as he actually cut his strikeout rate from 16.9% to 10.5%, while simultaneously raising his walk rate from 7.0% to 9.8%. He has an excellent understanding of the strike zone paired with the ability to drive the ball to all fields.
Earlier I said Kevin Parada is great at hitting. Now after he’s hit 5 bombs this week I still think he is great at hitting pic.twitter.com/E6EZK97WOo— Stephen Schoch (@bigdonkey47) February 26, 2022
His defense behind the plate is a bit of a question mark. Depending on who you ask, his receiving is anywhere from “fringy” to “solid.” His throwing has also drawn mixed reviews, as Keith Law describes his arm strength as fringy, while Prospects Live asserts that technique rather than strength is the issue.
Kevin Parada has an absolute hose. Keep your eye out for him as this year’s Buster Posey Award and Johnny Bench Award winner has a good chance at being one of the first names off the board in the MLB Draft. @parada_kevin_— MLB Caught Stealing (@MLB_CS) June 30, 2022
He has a chance to stick behind the plate, but his bat should play regardless of position. Henry Davis is a decent comp as a right-handed hitter with a solid hit tool, huge power, and questions about catcher defense. Davis went first overall last year, but several prep hitters and Cal Poly SS Brooks Lee are likely to come off the board before Parada this year. Joe Doyle of Prospects Live recently mocked Parada to Kansas City, writing:
I’ll be honest, the Royals have never been directly connected to Parada in the folks that I’ve talked with. But it’s almost impossible to see his bat fall outside of the Top 10, and this feels like his floor. I’ve heard Horton here, but it’s mostly college bats here. The Royals did scout Alabama lefty Connor Prielipp pretty heavy in his late may workout for teams, so that’s something to consider as well.
Though it seems unlikely that Parada is still on the board when the Royals pick at #9, every year players expected to go early fall for one reason or another. Perhaps this year that’s Parada, and if he’s available at #9, that’s a difficult bat to pass on.
What do you think of Kevin Parada at #9?
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