One of two selections in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft, Kevin Parada was considered one of the best hitting prospects in last year’s class. When he fell to the Mets at the No. 11 overall pick, the team got a bargain in selecting him – Baseball America rated his as the sixth-best prospect in the entire draft.
After quick stops in the Florida Complex League and St. Lucie last year, Parada, who ranks as the Mets’ fourth-best prospect and 50th best in MiLB according to BA, has spent this season with the High-A Brooklyn Cyclones.
He started slow, hitting just .213/.338/.328 in April, but as the weather on Coney Island has improved, so has Parada – through Thursday night he is batting .283/.367/.547 in May.
In 129 plate appearances this season, the former Georgia Tech catcher has shown solid patience, good power, above average bat-to-ball skills, and does a good job of hitting the ball in the air. His 21.7% K% is on the lower side for the SAL, and is the lowest among Brooklyn players with a minimum of 60 plate appearances.
Scouts and Brooklyn staff rave about Parada’s offensive tools, with the near consensus being that his future is that of a very good big leaguer. So what is there to like?
Parada has a very interesting set up at the plate. There is a lot of movement in his hands before the pitch and at times the barrel of his bat is pointed towards the ground. It is almost Mickey Tettleton-level, except held at a different angle.
Despite this rather unorthodox setup, he always gets himself into hitting position as the pitcher prepares to deliver the ball. When he swings, he usually makes contact and hits the ball hard. The ball jumps off his bat to all fields and he is an excellent athlete for a catcher. He has a very twitchy swing that generates really consistent results.
The biggest question with Parada is his ability to remain behind the plate. Without even considering Francisco Alvarez in the majors, scouts seem to think the ultimate move for Parada is out from behind home plate, probably to the outfield to be a more athletic version of Kyle Schwarber (though Parada only bats righty).
Parada is an okay receiver, but needs to improve in that area if he wants to stick at the position long-term. He also struggles in throwing runners out attempting to steal. Over 87% of stolen base attempts against Parada have been successful this year. Stolen base rates are high in the SAL, but even so that is on the high side. In their preseason scouting report, BA likes his chances of sticking as a catcher and noted his desire to get better, but for now he is not there yet.
This is were his speed and athleticism help. If he fails to improve as a catcher, a move to the outfield would probably be relatively easy for him. He should be able to cover enough ground to not be a liability, plus it would save his body the wear and tear of catching and enable him to play in more games.
But no matter where Parada ends up defensively, the Mets have a special player on their hands.