Kevin Parada is the next highly talented catcher in Georgia Tech’s history. Jason Varitek, Matt Wieters and Joey Bart were all first-round picks after catching at Georgia Tech.
Bart was the most recent first-round pick, as the San Francisco Giants selected him second overall in the 2018 MLB draft. Parada hopes to follow in Bart’s footsteps and hear his name called early in the 2022 draft.
Parada was a potential first-round picking coming out of the California high school ranks in 2020. Less than two years later, Parada is one of the top college baseball players and in the mix to go first overall in the 2022 draft.
Receiving draft attention in high school has helped Parada prepare for the draft process as a draft-eligible sophomore this season.
“In college, it comes down to taking care of your own business and letting your actions show,” Parada said. “In high school, it’s a tough decision when you are an 18-year-old trying to decide if you want to become a full adult and live on your own or go to college. Coming to Georgia Tech has allowed me to grow up and mature a little bit. I’m excited.”
As a freshman in 2021, Parada was Georgia Tech’s top hitter. He posted a .318 average with 20 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 220 at-bats in 52 games.
Coming out of high school, scouts considered Parada as an offensive-first player. That didn’t change in his first year at Georgia Tech, as he said the transition to hitting college pitching was almost seamless.
Parada is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound catcher who has an athletic stance and smooth and easy swing. He uses a mature approach and drives the ball to all fields with authority. He displays an impressive ability to hit for average and power.
“My bat right now is my biggest strength,” Parada said. “I have noticed that if I stay within myself and just swing at pitches in the zone, I don’t think there is any pitching that can get me out that much. I have an opportunity against everybody, and I don’t think there’s a single pitcher I will struggle with.”
Behind the plate, Parada has above-average arm strength and solid athleticism. He has made strides defensively in his time at Georgia Tech, including improving his receiving skills. Parada has started using a one-knee catching stance when the hitter’s count is less than two strikes.
Parada still uses his normal catching stance on occasion. But he believes the one-knee stance will help him experience more longevity and catch more innings throughout his career, he said.
“I have made huge jumps since even last year and high school defensively,” Parada said. “I have noticed how much better I have gotten at catching. Working on the arm strength and staying healthy there, I have noticed that I have thrown better. As I have gotten more reps and caught more guys, I have gotten better defensively.”
Georgia Tech has qualified for the NCAA tournament the last two years, not counting the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Yellow Jackets are searching for their first College World Series appearance since 2006, however.
Last year, Georgia Tech boasted one of the top offenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference but had the second-worst pitching ERA in the conference. This spring, Parada believes Georgia Tech has the pieces to advance to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska.
“The biggest goal is to make it to Omaha,” Parada said. “I know that if I take care of what I need to do, everything is going to take care of itself with the draft. I am just more worried about winning ball games and just making sure I am doing everything in my power to become a better baseball player.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.