Mets prospect Kevin Parada: 2 reasons for concern and 2 reasons for optimism

The 22-year-old catcher must have a bounce back season in 2024.
Jul 17, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Kevin Parada is congratulated by Rob Manfred, commissioner of
Jul 17, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Kevin Parada is congratulated by Rob Manfred, commissioner of / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Mets had many players experience down performances in 2023. Many of those struggles came from key players that the team relied upon the most to win games and stay on pace with the Atlanta Braves as they did in 2022. On the offensive end, those struggles were highlighted by the decline in batting averages including Pete Alonso going from .271 to .217, Starling Marte from .292 to .248, and Jeff McNeil from .326 to .270. On the pitching end, the most notable ERA climbs were Adam Ottavino from 2.06 to 3.21, David Peterson from 3.83 to 5.03, and Drew Smith from 3.33 to 4.15.

These statistics represent how volatile batting averages, power numbers, and pitching metrics can be from year to year. Suffice it to say, players are only human and are going to have better seasons than others. The same can be said for minor league prospects as they mature both as baseball players and from their teenage years into grown men. Kevin Parada has experienced this volatile nature as he matures beyond his collegiate career. Though his statistics in the minor leagues have not been impressive, there are signs he is making adjustments that have helped enhance his game. In particular, which reasons should the Mets have to be concerned and what trends have them optimistic about the young catcher's development in 2024?

First reason for concern: the offensive numbers are mediocre.

Parada has been considered a top draft prospect on the MLB Pipeline since graduating from high school in 2020. He was ranked 48th on MLB Pipeline's top 100 but went undrafted out of Loyola High School in Pasadena, California, because of his commitment to the Georgia Institute of Technology. Though he went undrafted, the 19-year-old catcher proved scouts correct in their evaluations. In 2 seasons at Georgia Tech, Parada played in 112 games and hit .341 with 35 home runs and 130 RBI. Parada earned his signing bonus when he was later selected by the Mets in the first round of the 2022 draft.

There was confusion surrounding Billy Eppler's decision to draft a catcher given Francisco Alvarez's ascent to a top-five prospect in all of baseball. Regardless of the circumstance, the Mets' front office was committed to selecting the best available prospect at 11th overall. In MLB Pipeline's top 100, Parada was ranked 6th because of his raw power ability to all ends of the field. Scouts described the 21-year-old as a potential .280-.300 hitter with 20-25 home runs, which would make him at least a designated hitter option for the Mets in the future.

Parada has yet to replicate his collegiate success since entering professional baseball in 2022. Last season in 105 games between High-A Brooklyn and AA Binghamton, Parada hit .248 with 14 home runs and 54 RBI. While he showed good plate discipline recording 36 walks, he also struck out an alarming 126 times. While he only played 14 games in Binghamton, he hit .185 with 23 strikeouts. For Parada to reach his full offensive potential, he must have a more respectable batting average against lesser competition in the minor leagues.