As issues within the majors go, let’s name it sub-optimally, for the Washington Nationals to date this season, lots of the group’s eyes are going to be waiting for the MLB Draft already.
This 12 months’s occasion, which Nats Common Supervisor Mike Rizzo calls the Superbowl of MLB, will see the Nationals choosing greater than they’ve since they chose Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper with back-to-back primary total picks — although they did choose Anthony Rendon sixth total the 12 months after these two.
After ending final season with a dismal 65-97 document following a commerce deadline sell-off, the Nationals are choosing fifth on this draft and have the prospect so as to add some highly-rated prospects to their better-but-still-not-great farm system.
Followers who’ve adopted the Nationals since these excessive picks know that Rizzo and his entrance workplace like to lean into choosing large, hard-throwing faculty pitching with their first-round picks.
On this draft although, the very best faculty pitchers on this class doubtless gained’t be chosen till the second half of the primary spherical. It is a draft class that’s blessed with hitting, and lots of it, each at the highschool and collegiate degree, in order that’s doubtless the place the Nats go along with their decide.
And with loads of mock drafts in from business consultants, all of them appear to be pointing to 1 title because the workforce’s main goal: Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada.
In his newest mock draft, MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo indicated that the Nationals have been closely invested within the backstop to date within the course of:
“In an ideal world, there can be a school arm right here for the Nationals to take, however there’s not. They’ve reportedly been ‘throughout’ Parada.”
Mayo’s MLB Pipeline colleague, Jim Callis, additionally talked about the Nationals and Parada in his mock draft, although he had Parada going to the Texas Rangers two picks forward of the Nats.
“The Nationals’ main goal seems to be Parada, who has a great likelihood to get to No. 5 so long as Holliday doesn’t go 1-1. Getting [Elijah] Inexperienced, who has the very best bodily instruments in the complete Draft, isn’t a foul Plan B.”
To this point this season, Parada is slashing a dominant .360/.457/.727 for the Yellow Jackets with 26 residence runs, tied for sixth-most in Division 1, and 85 RBIs, third-most in D1, in 56 video games. The catcher has additionally walked greater than he’s struck out, with 30 free passes and 27 strikeouts.
There’s completely no doubting that Parada’s bat will play as an expert, although it’s unclear whether or not he’ll find yourself as extra of a doubles hitter, simply as he was in his freshman season, or as a house run hitter, which he has been hitting extra of this 12 months.
The primary query marks with Parada come round his protection behind the plate, notably round his arm, one thing that draft consultants fear might get uncovered in professional ball, in addition to questions on how effectively he’ll maintain up over a full professional season of baseball.
Perhaps that’s not a priority for the Nats, assuming they like his bat sufficient to take him fifth total.
They have already got Keibert Ruiz, who they undertaking as an All-Star degree catcher, so would doubtless transfer Parada elsewhere within the area down the road. Or they may kick that may down the street given you by no means actually know what your main league roster appears to be like like by the point these draftees are big-league prepared.
Bear in mind, Bryce Harper was a catcher when he was drafted. That decide labored out fairly effectively.
June shall be a very large take a look at for Parada because the NCAA regionals start, an opportunity for the backstop to show himself on the plate in opposition to good competitors, no less than so far as Georgia Tech goes.
In Baseball America’s most up-to-date mock draft not solely did they mock Parada to the Nationals, however in addition they reported that the workforce is sending high-level executives to look at him this weekend.
“It sounds just like the Nationals have been sending in some heavy hitters to see Parada, together with lately throughout the ACC Event.”
Do all of those hyperlinks by consultants imply that the Nationals are more likely to choose Parada with their first-round decide? As ever with the draft, it’s much more sophisticated than that.
Simply take final 12 months for example. There have been loads of large faculty pitchers linked with the Nationals within the build-up to the draft, so what did they choose? A highschool shortstop, clearly!
The Nationals weren’t anticipating Brady Home to be there once they have been on the clock with the eleventh decide of the draft, so that they have been very happy to select him as a key cog of their rebuild, and if somebody greater up their board slips to them this 12 months, they’ll pounce.
The highest gamers on this 12 months’s class seem like Druw Jones and Jackson Holliday — sure, these are the sons of Andruw Jones and Matt Holliday, so we will all age slightly bit extra figuring out this reality after watching their fathers. If both of them slips previous the groups choosing forward of the Nats, maybe to protect some slot bonus cash because the Baltimore Orioles have been recognized to do reaching for school gamers, they may very well be an possibility too.
Whereas The Athletic’s Keith Legislation mocked Parada to the Nationals in his most up-to-date mock draft, he had related reservations that if the primary spherical is shaken up, the Nats are versatile.
“The Nats have been linked to Parada for a number of weeks right here, though I think about they’d think about one of many guys above (Holliday?) in the event that they dropped.”
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN had a few different potential names — together with Brooks Lee, who suits the entrance workplace’s ethos of taking shortstops within the draft — to look at for the Nats, however once more, simply as lots of his friends have completed, mocked Paradas to the Nationals in his final mock.
“It seems like [Brooks] Lee, Parada and [Elijah] Inexperienced are the choices right here, and I feel in that order, however it isn’t clear but.”
A part of going by a rebuild, such because the one the Nationals discover themselves in is gritting your tooth, and getting by some tough occasions on the sector whereas gamers already in your group develop. The opposite is discovering methods to accumulate extra gifted younger gamers through trades and within the MLB Draft to bolster the farm system and construct a brand new basis.
With their highest decide in a decade on this 12 months’s draft, Rizzo and the remainder of the entrance workplace are underneath much more stress to get the choice proper to be able to hold their rebuild on monitor.
Based mostly on the most recent draft reporting, Parada seems to be the participant they’re zeroing in on…