Georgia Tech’s Kevin Parada expected to go early in MLB draft

The honors have streamed like a current for Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada – first-team All-ACC, followed by unanimous first-team All-American and finally winner of the Buster Posey Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

A most meaningful and lucrative prize is expected Sunday when the MLB draft begins with its first two rounds. Parada is expected to be selected early, possibly even in the top three picks.

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MLB.com and Baseball America peg him as the No. 3 pick to the Texas Rangers. Sporting News slots him at No. 5 to the Washington Nationals.

Wrote Baseball America, “Between his contact ability, newfound power and production in a strong conference, Parada’s offensive package is as complete and proven as anyone’s in the 2022 class.”

Parada could enjoy a pretty healthy financial return on two years of playing at Tech. Coming out of high school in Pasadena, Calif., he was rated the No. 48 prospect in the 2020 draft class by Baseball America but, with his plans to play for Tech and coach Danny Hall, he was not selected. That year, the No. 48 pick signed for a $1.54 million bonus. While hardly pocket change, the No. 5 pick is slotted to receive a bonus of $6.5 million this year.

Parada will be one of several draft prospects tied to metro Atlanta who will go quickly. Wesleyan School outfielder Druw Jones (son of former Braves star Andruw Jones) and Mays High infielder Termarr Johnson are potential top-five, and even first overall, selections. Buford High pitcher Dylan Lesko is another first-round possibility.

Parada will be no less than the 16th catcher drafted from Tech in Hall’s 29 seasons and sixth in the past 10, a grand enhancement to the school’s reputation as “Catcher U.” He’ll follow past first-round picks Jason Varitek (1994), Matt Wieters (2007) and Joey Bart (2018).

Following Wieters (taken fifth overall) and Bart (second), Parada most likely will be Tech’s third catcher taken in the top 10 (and possibly in the top five) in 16 years. Starting with the 2000 draft, only one school has had even two catchers drafted in the first round (Miami), and the Hurricanes’ higher catcher pick went 10th.

Parada is the first of several Yellow Jackets players who could be taken in the 20-round draft, which will continue Monday and finish Tuesday.

Tech’s next draftee likely will be second baseman Chandler Simpson, a St. Pius grad who transferred to Tech from Alabama-Birmingham for one season. Simpson merely led Division I in batting average (.433) and was ninth in on-base percentage (.509). Baseball America rated him the No. 88 prospect and wrote that his “rare combination of speed and contact ability stand out and make him a likely second- or third-round pick.”

Hall considers Parada and Simpson to be “slam dunks” to sign contracts and turn professional. After that, there are at least eight players with eligibility remaining who could be selected. They are outfielders Tres Gonzalez and Stephen Reid, infielders Tim Borden, Drew Compton and Andrew Jenkins and pitchers Marquis Grissom, Chance Huff and Zach Maxwell. Outfielder Colin Hall also is a draft possibility.

Maxwell (No. 162), Gonzalez (No. 165), Jenkins (No. 223), Grissom (No. 261), Huff (No. 268) and Compton (No. 410) are all ranked in Baseball America’s top 500 prospects. All could face decisions on how big a signing bonus they would require to leave Tech vs. staying for another season and continuing their development.

Danny Hall said “you just can’t predict” how the draft will turn out for those prospects and Tech.

Said Hall of Grissom, “he’s one, if he doesn’t get a great opportunity this year, I think he can be a Friday-night starter in our league and be a high-round draft pick next year.”

Hall also will monitor to see if any of his high-school signees get selected and can be persuaded to turn professional. Pitcher/outfielder Riley Stanford of Buford High (No. 182), catcher Lamar King (No. 198) and pitcher Noah Samol (No. 360) figure to be the most likely.

King has been tabbed as Parada’s likely successor behind the plate. From Calvert Hall College High in Towson, Md., King is “pretty heavily scrutinized for the draft,” according to Hall, who was hopeful that King will trust in the track record of catchers who’ve improved their draft standing after coming to Tech.

“I think he can step in and certainly help us and develop and hopefully in two to three years we’re talking about the same way about him that we talked about Parada and Joey Bart and Kyle McCann,” Hall said.