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Top 25 Mets Prospects for 2024: Kevin Parada (12)

Next on our list is a catcher.

Amazin Avenue Prospect List

Name: Kevin Parada
Position: C
Born: 8/03/2001
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: 2022 MLB Draft, 1st Round (Georgia Tech)

2023 Stats: 87 G, 340 AB, .265/.340/.447, 90 H, 21 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 30 BB, 96 K, 1/3 SB, .336 BABIP (High-A)/14 G, 54 AB, .185/.250/.389, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 4 BB, 23 K, 0/0 SB, .241 BABIP

A California native, Kevin Parada lettered four years at Loyola High School in Los Angeles and hit a cumulative .380/.466/.661 with 9 home runs, 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts, and 34 walks to 51 strikeouts. Considered potentially a second or third-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Parada rejected all suitors who came to him with offers, intent on attending college and honoring his commitment to Georgia Tech, hoping to be the next highly touted catcher from the school and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mike Nickeas, Joey Bart, Matt Wieters and Jason Varitek.

The backstop just about did that. Parada appeared in 52 games for the Yellow Jackets in his freshman year and hit .318/.379/.550 with 9 home runs, 1 stolen base in 2 attempts, and 17 walks to 41 strikeouts. He put on roughly 15 pounds when he returned to Georgia Tech for his sophomore year, but the weight gain was all muscle, which helped his durability and power output. He appeared in 60 games in 2022 and hit .361/.453/.709 with 26 home runs- a Georgia Tech single-season record-, 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts, and 30 walks to 32 strikeouts. All-in-all, Parada hit .341/.420/.636 in 112 games at Georgia Tech, slugging 35 home runs, walking 47 times, and striking out 73 times.

A draft-eligible sophomore, Parada was considered by some sources as high as a top 5 prospect but fell to the Mets when they made their first first-round selection with the 11th overall pick. He signed for $5,019,735, a few hundred thousand dollars over the MLB-assigned slot value of $4,778,200, and was assigned to the FCL Mets roughly two weeks later to begin his professional career. He appeared in three games for them in mid-August and then was then promoted to the St. Lucie Mets, where he appeared in 10 games from late-August until the end of the season, hitting .276/.463/.414 with 1 home run, 0 stolen bases in 1 attempt, and 10 walks to 12 strikeouts.

Considered the Mets’ 4th best prospect coming into the 2023 season, expectations were high for the backstop coming into his first full season, but he did not live up to them. Assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones to begin the year, Parada hit .265/.340/.447 with 11 home runs. He was sluggish to start the year, hitting .213/.338/.328 in April, playing in cold weather for the first time in his career, before turning things around with a .269/.352/.452 May, .303/.354/.539 June, and .274/.342/.438 July. At the end of July, Parada was put on the Injured List with a right-ankle sprain. After a short rehab stint, he returned to Brooklyn and struggled for 5 games before being promoted to Double-A Binghamton for the rest of the season. He struggled with the Rumble Ponies, appearing in 16 games from the end of August until the end of September, hitting a paltry .185/.250/.389 with 3 home runs. The Mets sent the backstop to the Arizona Fall League following the conclusion of the season, and he struggled with the Glendale Desert Dogs as well, hitting .186/.240/.371 in 18 games with 3 home runs, 4 walks, and 29 strikeouts.

At the plate, Parada has a unique pre-pitch setup, wrapping his bat behind his head and angling it down behind his back at about 4:00 while raising his lead shoulder. At various points during the 2023 season and during the Arizona Fall League, Parada adjusted his setup, with his bat head angled at less extreme angles as to catch up to the better velocity and breaking pitches he is facing as a professional. At Georgia Tech, with the lighter aluminum NCAA bat, this unorthodox set up did not seem impact his ability to get himself set into a good hitting position, as he consistently made hard contact against both velocity and spin, but he struggled with it as times with Brooklyn, Binghamton, and Glendale.

When he makes solid contact with the ball, Parada uses the entire field and can put a jolt into the ball. An educated hitter, he can go with pitches thrown away and drive them to right field or pull pitches thrown inside. While never really an issue at Georgia Tech, Parada swung and missed far too often in 2023, striking out 96 times in 87 Brooklyn games, 23 times in 14 Binghamton games, and 29 times in 18 Arizona Fall League games. The swing-and-miss issues were most magnified in the games following his return from injury, so reigning in the strikeouts will be key to Parada in 2024.

Evaluating catcher defense is difficult, but most scouts and evaluators believe that Parada is a below-average backstop at the present with the potential to improve, but is not necessarily a lock to stay at the position in the future. On the plus side, he is mobile behind the plate, has improved his framing ability, and has an accurate arm. On the negative side, Parada has below-average arm strength and needs to improve blocking pitches. Runners took advantage of his defensive deficiencies in 2023, attempting to steal a whopping 150 times on him in 615.2 innings behind the plate, and succeeding 122 times, a catastrophic 81% success rate. He committed 10 errors and had 7 passed balls. The constant activity on the basepaths almost certainly had a snowball effect on his other defensive abilities by making him rush, and Parada will need to formulate a plan to limit stolen base attempts while he is behind the dish in order to improve his in-game abilities as a defensive catcher.

Parada is athletic enough to play in the outfield- he does not have a quick first step, but once he gets going, he should be rangy enough to handle left field with no major issues- but every effort and every care should be given to him continuing his development as a catcher before he is moved from one of the highest positions on the defensive spectrum to one of the lowest. To his credit, Parada has a high emotional and baseball IQ and is not one to shirk away from putting in the work and improving where improvements can be made.