The Cincinnati Reds have selected shortstop Matt McLain out of UCLA with the 17th overall pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft.
Matt McLain Scouting Report
Height: 5′ 11″ | Weight: 170
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Position: Shortstop
Highest Ranking: 10th (Baseball America)
Matt McLain was previously selected 25th overall in 2018 by the Diamondbacks. He’s has been on the radar of scouts for a quite a while. There were some struggles as a freshman, hitting just .203/.276/.355 back in 2019. Since then he’s hit quite well. In the last two seasons he’s hit .349/.431/.589.
McLain impresses scouts with his ability to hit and with his speed. He should be strong on the bases where he could steal double digit bags in the big leagues. The right-handed hitter also projects to hit for a good average in the future. Defensively there’s some split opinions on where it is that he winds up. He may be able to play shortstop in the big leagues, but he’ll likely be below-average there from a defensive standpoint. Most scouts believe he will wind up at second base, but third base could also be an option for him down the line. A few scouts belief that he could even make a move to center if a team wants to try it thanks to his speed. As a freshman he spent some time in the outfield, so that move wouldn’t be something that would be starting from scratch. There is concern about just how much power he can hit for, with most scouts grading his power out as below-average with 12-15 home runs being the projection for him.
Matt McLain Video
Matt McLain College Stats
If we are working with the information at hand being correct, then Matt McLain is going to need to be a shortstop or a center fielder if he’s going to have more than an average every day big leaguer upside. Slightly below-average power is going to limit that upside at other spots on the field. You can be a sub-20 home run shortstop, catcher, or center fielder. It’s a lot tougher to be a sub-20 home run second baseman in today’s game.
College hitters who don’t walk more than they strikeout as juniors tend to give me a little bit of a pause as first rounders. UCLA is a great baseball school in an outstanding baseball conference – but typically you see first round picks with plenty more walks than strikeouts in their junior season and when they don’t have that it begs a question or two.
With all of that said, it does seem that there are some thoughts out there that the tools may be better than they have played at times while he was in college. A 2-time first round pick, he’s certainly not someone who lacks ability on the field or tools. This pick feels like a safe big leaguer. It might also be one where the upside isn’t potentially as high as some other players that will be going in the first round tonight.
Scouting Director Brad Meador on Matt McLain
“He’s a guy that we really wanted, we really liked, he was really high on the board. We didn’t think we’d be able to get him. But the way it worked out…. Really excited. He’s a player we think can play shortstop, he’s a plus runner, he can handle the bat, hit in the top of the lineup. Middle of the field player with really good tools, really good make up – a lot to be excited about.”
On whether McLain reminded him a bit of Jonathan India and Nick Senzel
“Yeah, we talked about that. I think that’s a good one. We talked about that in the room. He’s a tough kid. He’s played different positions. We think he can play shortstop and we think that’s where he fits best. But he’s a good athlete who’s played second base, who’s played center field, he can move around the field. He gives your team when he gets there, he gives you flexibility, and he can be able to fit into different spots. That’s a good thing. That’s exciting.”
Click here to see the other scouting reports from the 2021 Major League Baseball Draft from the Cincinnati Reds.