December 9, 2022

Mets, Yankees make first round draft selections

Mets, Yankees make first round draft selections

Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft kicked off on Sunday night, and the Big Apple’s teams made three picks.

The Mets owned the 11th and 14th picks. The former came from failing to sign Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker — who went third to the Rangers this time around—after taking him in the 2021 draft. With that pick, the Mets selected Kevin Parada, a catcher from Georgia Tech University.

Considered one of the most polished collegiate hitters in the draft, Parada set Georgia Tech’s single-season home run record in 2022, a big accomplishment considering that the school’s alumni include Nomar Garciaparra and Mark Teixeira. He also was a member of the All-ACC first team.

Parada, drafted after his sophomore season, slashed .338/.417/.643 (1.060 OPS) in his two seasons as a Yellow Jacket. Listed at 6′1″ and 197 pounds, the 20-year-old hit 35 home runs during his 108 collegiate games. He is a right-handed hitter who grew up in Pasadena, CA.

“I can’t be more excited right now,” Parada said on MLB Network’s broadcast of the draft. “I’m ready to go help the Mets win more.”

After his fantastic 2022 season, Parada received the Buster Posey Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding catcher. He was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, college baseball’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Parada joins Joey Bart (2018), Matt Wieters (2007) and Jason Varitek (1994) as notable Georgia Tech catchers to get picked in the first round.

With the 14th pick, the Mets grabbed Jett Williams, a shortstop from Rockwall-Heath High School in Heath, TX. At only 5′8″ and 175 pounds, Williams will draw unceasing comparisons to Jose Altuve. Williams, who according to MLB Network hit .411 with 24 stolen bases during his senior year of high school, had a commitment to Mississippi State University.

There’s not as much information or video on high school players, but Williams is known in prospect circles for his speed. He became the fifth high schooler to come off the board in the first 14 picks.

The Yankees went 25th and took Spencer Jones, a 6′7″ outfielder. Sound familiar?

While it will be at least a few years before he is sharing a lineup with Aaron Judge, Jones is a 21-year-old from the baseball powerhouse at Vanderbilt University, making him closer to MLB-ready than most. He hit a casual .370 last season with 12 home runs and a .643 slugging percentage.

Jones improved his slugging percentage in each of his three years at Vanderbilt, where he helped the Commodores reach the finals of the College World Series in 2021. Before focusing exclusively on being a position player, Jones had Tommy John surgery following a UCL tear he experienced while pitching.

At the MLB Draft combine in June, Jones recorded the hardest hit ball of the entire day (112.2 miles per hour) and had the third-fastest time in the 30-yard dash at 3.60 seconds. That speed helped Jones swipe 14 bases in 61 games for Vanderbilt in 2022. Evaluators believe he could also play center field if needed.

This marks the third straight year that the Yankees have used their first pick on a college position player. In 2021 they drafted Trey Sweeney, a shortstop from Eastern Illinois. In 2020 their first-round guy was Austin Wells, the catcher out of Arizona.

Monday will bring rounds three through ten, with rounds 11-20 coming on Tuesday.