MLB Mock Drafts are slowly heating up and MLB.coms latest entry has the Nationals landing the top catching prospect.
The 2022 MLB Draft is just over two months away with the Washington Nationals set to pick fifth overall — their highest selection since taking Anthony Rendon sixth in 2011. Despite their recent firesale, the Nats farm system is still a work in progress that lacks overall depth.
Besides Brady House, Washington’s farm is in dire need of elite position player prospects, something that this year’s draft has in spades. Earlier in the week, MLB released their latest mock draft and had the Nationals taking a surprise at five. Despite Temarr Johnson who is being hyped up as one of the best pure prep hitters in decades available, Jim Callis has Washington selecting the top catcher in the draft, Kevin Parada.
Callis defended his selection by stating:
"“Though Parada may be the consensus top college prospect now, the Orioles and Pirates have selected college catchers with No. 1 overall picks in the last four Drafts. That’s not the case with the Nationals, who have a distinct lack of backstop prospects.”"
Drafting a catcher a year after trading for Keibert Ruiz who has supplanted himself as a building block might raise some eyebrows, but Parada’s bat is too good to pass up.
The 20-year-old has shot up draft boards thanks to his impressive sophomore season — slashing .363/.452/.741, with 23 homers, 74 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.192 for Georgia Tech. He’s also walked (25) more than he’s struck out (24) than and his 23 homers have him tied for second in all of D1.
Contrary to what Callis said, what stands out is the Nationals’ minor league catching depth is arguably the best it’s ever been. Drew Millas (20) and Israel Pineda (25) are both amongst the Nats’ top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline. Tres Barerra whose prospect status has expired is tearing up AAA, slashing .338/.419/.581, and making a case for promotion back to the majors. Riley Adams is currently the Nat’s backup and is struggling a bit offensively, but has formed a strong connection with veteran Patrick Corbin — helping him slowly turn his season around.
Despite their depth, that shouldn’t be a reason to not pursue Parada. His bat is game-changing and would add another building block around Juan Soto. The big question mark is where he will play on the diamond.
Entering this season, scouts and analysts were worried about Parada’s defense, but he has slowly started to put those concerns behind. But with Ruiz entrenched behind the plate, a move to a corner infield spot or DH is not out of the realm of possibility for Parada.