Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The most recent MLB mock drafts have the Washington Nationals selecting Georgia Tech catcher, Kevin Parada.
Despite last year’s firesale, the Nationals’ farm system is still a work in progress, with a severe need for game-changing position player talent. Luckily for them, this year’s draft is loaded with bats atop the draft — with Drew Jones leading the way. Washington owns the fifth pick, their highest selection since taking Anthony Rendon number 6th overall in 2011.
General Manager Mike Rizzo loves drafting pitchers — having used seven of the team’s last first-round picks on arms. But this year’s pitching class is relatively weak at the top, with season-ending injuries to Dylan Lesko and Landon Simms pushing them down draft boards.
As teams start to prioritize under slotting more and more in the first round, it’s hard to predict who will be on the board when the Nationals go on the clock — but the majority of mock drafts have Washington selecting Georgia Tech catcher, Kevin Parada.
Nats fans have been torn at the mention of Washington drafting a catcher. After all, they traded away franchise legends Trea Turner and Max Scherzer for four prospects highlighted by Keibert Ruiz. Ruiz leads all catchers in runners caught stealing (11) and has been one of the team’s most consistent bats.
But Parada is one of the best college bats in this year’s draft, slashing an absurd .361/.453/.709, with 26 homers, 88 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.162 in 60 games. He flashed an impressive eye at the plate, only striking out (32) twice more than he walked (30). Projected to hit 20-25+ homers a year in the majors, Parada would be a massive boost to the middle of the Nationals lineup.
MLB Pipeline had rave reviews for his offensive potential in their scouting of him.
"“Parada doesn’t try to do too much at the plate, keeping his right-handed swing under control and lashing line drives all over the park. He has good feel for the barrel, makes repeated hard contact against all types of pitching and he’s showing increased power to all fields this year. He projects as a potential .280-.300 hitter with 20-25 homers per season who could fit into the middle of a big league batting order.”"
With Ruiz thriving behind the plate, moving Parada to a corner outfield spot or first would make sense. He wouldn’t be the first catcher the Nationals drafted just to move him defensively — with Bryce Harper coming to mind. Kyle Schwarber who the Cubs took fourth overall in 2014 was also a catcher in college before shifting to the outfield.
Mike Rizzo has said in the past he plans to have the team return to contention by 2024 and drafting a more polished college bat compared to one of the high-ceiling prep bats will help speed up the rebuild.