The MLB Draft starts this coming Sunday, July 17. The Cubs have the seventh pick in the first round and at least one excellent amateur prospect is sure to still be available when they pick.
The first three players we’ve looked at are Chipola College third baseman Cam Collier, Cal Poly shortstop Brooks Lee and Mays HS (GA) second baseman Termarr Johnson. If you’ve been following along, you know that the Cubs are extremely likely to pick a position player because there simply isn’t a pitcher available in this draft that anyone considers worthy of a top 10 pick. The Cubs may disagree and pick a pitcher, but no one seems to think that is likely.
The fourth player in this series is Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada. Parada was one of the best hitters in college baseball this past season, hitting .361/.453/.709. His 26 home runs tied him for sixth in all of Division I baseball. He also impressed with his ability to make contact and control the strike zone. In 60 games and 305 plate appearances, Parada struck out just 32 times while walking 30 times. Parada puts the ball in play when pitchers throw the ball in the zone and lays off of pitches outside of it.
Parada, who turns 21 in August, has a very unusual stance at the plate where he hangs his bat over his back, but it seems to work for him. By the time the pitch comes, he gets into a good place when the pitch comes and he has a nice, clean right-handed stroke.
Georgia Tech C Kevin Parada gets his arms extended on this fastball, in side/slo-mo here with center field/normal-mo quoted https://t.co/TdliKfprEC pic.twitter.com/sqEhaEbf8g— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) March 14, 2022
Few players in this draft offer the combination of the ability to hit for average and power as Parada does. He’s probably not a .300 hitter in the majors nor a 35 home run player, but it is easy to envision a ceiling for him as a .280 hitter with 25 home runs and an on-base-percentage in the .350-to-.370 range. At a premium defensive position like catcher, that’s excellent.
Parada, who stands at 6’1” and weighs 197 pounds, was a potential second-round pick out of high school in 2019, but he went undrafted because he was strongly committed to attending Georgia Tech. Coming into this season, Parada was only considered a late-first-round pick because evaluators felt that he’d have to move to first base in the pros. But he worked on his defense extensively in the off-season and adopted the one-knee style of catching popularized by J.T. Realmuto. (The Athletic sub. req.) He’s still not a great defensive catcher, but he’s pulled off plays like this.
WHAT A PLAY! Parada to Waddell to Jenkins! pic.twitter.com/4NNG85UNJc— Georgia Tech Baseball (@GTBaseball) April 28, 2021
There are still some debates about how good Parada will be as a catcher in the majors, but few actually think he’ll need to move off the position anymore. It’s a bit of a risk, however. If a team thinks they can work with him and improve his defense even more, then he’s potentially a franchise-defining catcher. But if a team thinks he’s already maxed-out defensively, then he’s still good but maybe not elite.
As a hitter, Parada is pretty advanced, but if a team wants to work on his defense, then he’ll probably need to take more time going through the minors. But as an advanced college player, he’s not a long-term project.
Parada is not likely to be available when the Cubs pick, although this mock draft from Jim Callis from MLB Pipeline has the Cubs taking Parada and Callis is the best in the business when it comes to these predictions. So there is a chance. But Parada is also closely connected to the Nationals, who have the fifth pick, and the Marlins, who pick sixth. But if we’re assuming that high schoolers Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday and Elijah Green are all gone before the Cubs pick, then either Collier, Lee, Johnson or Parada has to still be on the board.
(As far as Elijah Green goes, I’ve heard and read people saying he’s dropping and might still be available when the Cubs pick. I’ve also heard and read other people saying that’s nonsense and that he’s still very likely to be one of the first four players taken.)
Here are series of highlights of Parada’s hitting in the 2022 season. Be sure to watch some of it just to check out his very odd batting stance. But he also seems to have no problem getting into a good hitting position by the time it comes to swing at the pitch.