Mets Minor League Mailbag: Should people really be down on Kevin Parada?

SNY contributor Joe DeMayo answers fan questions in this edition of the Mets Minor League Mailbag...

From Ethan Briggs: How would you grade Kevin Parada’s season? It’s clear he went through injuries but it’s tough to not see this season as a bit underwhelming

When the Mets drafted Parada No. 11 overall in the 2022 MLB Draft, I believed they got fantastic value with the pick -- and that opinion was shared by scouts I speak to. Even on draft day there were questions about his defense behind the plate, and 2023 was not a great year for him defensively.

Parada's receiving graded out a little below average, but the bigger issue was in throwing out base runners. Across 72 games behind the plate between Low-A St. Lucie, High-A Brooklyn, and Double-A Binghamton he only threw out 18 percent of the runners attempting to steal.

The selling point on Parada was his bat, and that he would end up an offense-first catcher. He did miss some time with an ankle injury, but I personally expected Parada to dominate the lower minors, and he was just pretty good. He did, however, show the power and extra-base hit ability, hitting 23 doubles, four triples and 14 home runs across 105 games.

I know many are now down on Parada based on his first year, but we must remember it's early and that catchers tend to develop at a slower rate than other positions. I expected more, but I don’t think we should dismiss a talent like Parada’s quite yet.

From @MMBTVS: What kind of major league impact in 2024 or 2025 is a fair expectation for Tyler Stuart?

Stuart had one of the more impressive years among pitchers in the Mets system. He was second in all of minor league baseball with a 2.20 ERA (minimum of 80 innings pitched). He stands at 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds and is another example of the Mets drafting college relievers and converting them into starters -- like they did with Tylor Megill and Christian Scott, among others.

After drafting him in the sixth round in 2022, the Mets could not have expected Stuart to perform as well as he did. Often with a player of Stuart’s size, you see inconsistencies in his delivery and command, and neither were an issue in his first pro season.

I think his most likely home as a big leaguer is in the bullpen, unless he can make significant strides on a third pitch. He throws a sinker that will touch 95 mph that induced weak contact and a 49.5 percent ground ball rate in High-A. His best pitch is his mid-80s slider, and he relies on that as his swing-and-miss pitch.

Stuart is a very competitive pitcher on the mound, and I think that mentality could potentially play well in a bullpen role.

From RWagner: Do you think David Stearns will be willing to sign free agents that have QO penalties attached? Ohtani would be a no brainer, but I doubt they will consider any other free agent with that attached

For those wondering, QO is the qualifying offer, which is a one-year deal that a team can offer to an eligible pending free agent (this year is estimated to be around $20.5 million).

Players who were traded at the deadline or were previously offered a qualifying offer are not eligible. This is the only way that teams can get draft capital for a free agent leaving.

Last year, the Mets received compensatory picks when Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt departed as free agents. This year their only free agent is Carlos Carrasco, so the Mets don’t have any compensatory picks coming their way.

I would agree that Shohei Ohtani would be an exception, but otherwise I would imagine the Mets would continue to avoid free agents with a QO attached, as they have the past few years. We will know that list here in the next couple of weeks, but I would think names like Cody Bellinger, Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, and Josh Hader will be on that list.

Since the Mets exceeded the competitive balance tax in 2023, their penalties for signing a QO free agent would be their second-and fifth-highest selection in the 2024 MLB Draft as well as $1 million taken from their international bonus pool. With the Mets being an organization prioritizing youth, it is hard to imagine them being willing to lose those selections and bonus pool money.

Ohtani, as noted in the question, should be an exception to that rule. This is a big reason I have campaigned so hard on The Mets Pod for the Mets to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, even if it costs more money, as players from Japan do not cost any draft capital.