The 2021 MLB Draft begins on July 11, 2021, and unlike in 2020, this will be a twenty round draft — shorter than the forty rounds the draft has been in the most recent years prior to 2020, but longer than last year’s five round version. The Rangers’ top three picks are at #2, #38, and #73.
In the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks, looking both at players who are in the mix at #2 and players who would be candidates to be picked in the second or third rounds. Today we are looking at a righthanded prep pitcher from the Woodlands, Caedmon Parker.
Caedmon Parker is a 6’4”, 185 lb. righthanded pitcher for the Woodlands Christian Academy in the Woodlands, Texas. Parker also played football for his high school team, with MLB Pipeline noting that he scored fifteen touchdowns in the fall 2020 football season as a wide receiver and kick returner, intercepted five passes playing cornerback, and also was the punter, though it is a TAPPS 5A school, not UIL, in case you’re wondering why those numbers don’t have college football teams coming after him.
Parker primarily played shortstop until his sophomore season in high school. He pitched sparingly as a sophomore, and then had most of his junior season wiped out due to the pandemic, but had an impressive summer in 2020 on the mound that helped put him on more folks’ radars.
Where Parker sits with his fastball is something that reports vary on, and it appears that his fastball velocity fluctuates, as there’s reports indicating he’ll be anywhere from 86-89 to 91-94 mph in a given start. I saw one write up that indicated he throws both a two seamer and a four seamer, though based on MLB Pipeline’s writeup, which mentions the ride he gets with his fastball, it sounds like the two seamer is the one he uses more.
Parker throws a curve, a slider and a changeup, though as would be expected for a pitcher who hasn’t actually been pitching that long, they are still works in progress. BA says both his curve and his changeup are potential above-average pitches, though, while MLB Pipeline has a 55 on his slider and a 50 on the change and curveball.
Parker’s size and build has folks thinking that he will gain velocity as he fills out, with MLB Pipeline saying the fastball should be a plus pitch. Parker also, as one would expect from shortstop who also played wide receiver and cornerback in high school, gets high marks for his athleticism, which is a key marker for future command. BA sees him as a potentially having “future above-average or even plus” command.
We have about as wide a spread of rankings on Parker as we’ve seen on any of the prospects we have covered in this series. Baseball America has Parker at #220 on their current top 500 draft list. MLB Pipeline has Parker at #110 on their board. Over at ESPN Kiley McDaniel has Parker at #99 on his current board. Fangraphs has not included Parker on their board. Keith Law is the high guy on Parker, placing him at #41 on his board.
There seems to be a belief that Parker is a pitcher who could end up going to school and making himself a lot of money, relative to where the consensus has him going in the draft right now. Both BA and MLB Pipeline note that if he ends up going to TCU instead of going pro, he’s someone who could be a first rounder in 2024. Keith Law notes that Parker is “the quintessential high school projection righty.”
Working against Parker is the fact that COVID-19 cost him his junior season, so this is the first season teams are really getting to get a look at him in league play as a pitcher. That’s further complicated by the fact he is at a TAPPS school, rather than a UIL school, which means he’s not seeing the same level of competition. Woodlands Christian Academy is not exactly a baseball powerhouse — per MLB Pipeline, they’ve never had a player drafted. There’s the summer circuit from 2020 that teams have to work off of, but still, there’s not the same level of info and eyes that have been on him as with other prospects. Parker also had back issues that hampered him this spring.
Parker would seem to be a player who, like James Triantos, who we discussed earlier today, would seem likely to be a guy they take after the first couple of rounds with the intention of signing him to a well above slot bonus. Whether he’s a reasonable target depends on what his number is, and how sold a drafting team is on his upside. If he’s willing to take second round money, like Dylan MacLean ($1.2M bonus as a fourth rounder of the Rangers in 2020) did, I think you could see a team grab him in the fourth to sixth round range. Otherwise, with the draft limited to twenty rounds this year, rather than the usual forty, you could see him fall out of the draft altogether.