Matt McLain was out to a hot start when this week began. His start to his Triple-A season has had people talking about trying to find a way to get him to Cincinnati to help out a struggling offense. Those talks aren’t going to quiet down after what he did on Tuesday night to open up the Louisville Bats series against the Iowa Cubs.

After striking out in the 1st inning, McLain went to work. He drew a walk in the 4th inning. Then in the 5th inning he hit a 443-foot home run. That was his 6th of the year. No one else in the organization has more than three. In the 7th inning he singled into center. Then in the 8th inning he capped off his night with a double.

His home run came off of the bat at 106.2 MPH. The double topped that. It came off of his bat at 107.5 MPH – his second best exit velo of the season (108.9 MPH on a groundout earlier in the year).

By the time the game was over, Matt McLain was hitting .310/.449/.634 with five doubles, six home runs, 16 walks, and 20 strikeouts in 89 plate appearances. His walk rate is up from last year. His strikeout rate is down from last year. The power is also up. Good things are happening at the dish for McLain. With a 1.083 OPS he ranks 8th best in the International League.

TJ Hopkins keeps it going

On most days a 443-foot home run is going to be on top of the leaderboard….. but not on Tuesday night. TJ Hopkins followed up Matt McLain’s 443-foot home run with one that soared over the leaderboard and then some. One inning after McLain’s long homer, Hopkins crushed one to dead center that went 468 feet.

Not the best camera work ever. You can’t see where the ball goes/lands, but I guess it’s not too often that you’ll have home runs clear the batters eye, either. A day after publishing the first Longest Homers of the Week article, TJ Hopkins put up a new high score and did so by a wide margin.

His start hasn’t been quite as good as McLain’s, but it’s fair to say that Hopkins is crushing the ball. He’s hitting .338/.403/.538 with seven doubles and two home runs in his 19 games played for Louisville.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

Related Posts

23 Responses

  1. Doc4uk

    Bring up McClain , Hopkins, and Robinson and drop Newman, Maille, Fairchild, and maybe Casali for CES in the next 4 weeks.

    • Zach

      Reds management needs to be cool with their promotions until later in the season. The MLB level guys are playing for their jobs no doubt. Fairchild is on the hot seat. He need to start producing at the plate or he will be sent to AAA. Although he has less than 40 at-bats, so it’s a small sample. Same for Newman, but he has about 60 at-bats.

      I don’t think the Reds should bring up anyone who isn’t going to be a full time starter though. If they really want to make a switch, they’ll need to be decisive. I’d rather Hopkins and McClain both get full reps at AAA and refine their craft. For now- promotions seem to be the most logical around the time of the ASG. Better sample, plus service time delay.

      Barrero needs more time too- too young and is catching up to MLB level play.

      • 2020ball

        Agree they should be patient with call-ups, but McClain’s doing his best to force himself onto the roster. I’m not against promoting him.

        Fairchild’s drawn a lot of walks, I’ve been impressed with that so far. Its carrying his offensive profile. His power’s disappeared but I dont expect that to continue. Confused why you think Barrero’s not getting playing time, he’s playing plenty.

      • Zach

        2020 ball- I mean Barrero needs more starts at the MLB level to check if he’s made improvements since last year. I say give him a half to full season before making a decision to promote McClain.

        Barrero has made adjustments, it shows in his line so far. Taking more walks is a good sign that he’s catching up to MLB level pitching. He just turned 25, I think he could still end up being an effective player with some patience. Defense was sloppy too to start the season, needs to clean that up.

  2. RedBB

    I would like Hopkins more if his SO/BB rate was better.

    • MBS

      I agree on that, I like Hopkins, but as a 4th or 5th OF. His strikeout rate of 28.8 this year, and 28.2 last year isn’t good, and will probably keep him more as a backup or a AAAA player long term. I’d still rather see him up with the Reds than Fairchild.

      • RedBB

        I’d disagree with that. I like Fairchild and he’s the best defender in the OF that we have. His AB’s are good and has showed he’s probably a league average hitter.

      • MBS

        Therein lies the problem with having mediocre players. We all seem to disagree which mediocre player is better than the other mediocre player. If either of Fairchild or Hopkins are getting significant playing time, that means we have a problem.

  3. Laredo Slider

    Hopkins is already 26, a product of the Reds slow dragging their prospects. He and McClain were college players, they’re wasting ABs at the minor league level. Call them up and put them in the lineup and leave them there.

    • DaveCT

      Subtract the lost 2020?season and it’s more realistic for Hopkins, who’s ceiling is likely a platoon OF, to be in in his 4th season and just his 3rd in full season ball.

      That said, the Iowa announcers today were begging the Reds to call him up as he’s been wearing them out.

    • Old Big Ed

      Hopkins played 4 years in college, so he was one year behind before he was drafted. His first full pro season was the covid year of 2020, when he didn’t play at any level. His being 26 has nothing to do with the Reds purportedly “slow dragging their prospects.” Hopkins had an OPS of .800 at Chattanooga last year (at age 25) and earned a late promotion to Louisville, where he had a .757 OPS in 25 games. He was correctly placed at Louisville this year, and he has thrived.

      As for McLain, who is not named “McClain,” none of the first 95 players selected in the 2021 draft have appeared in MLB yet, so apparently every team is “slow dragging their prospects.” But see Walker, Jordan.

  4. Michael B. Green

    I think at some point fairly soon, the Joey Votto farewell tour will start with CIN. I think his surgery has likely ended his career. He is great for the game, the fanbase, etc., but a 47% K% at AAA is not looking good. I hope he reads this to motivate him into making me eat crow.

    I state this because CES’ 40MR spot is tied directly to Votto. McClain’s is likely tied to Newman.

    I don’t think both come up at the same time. One will come at the beginning of one month (June?) and the other will come up at the beginning of another month (July or August). McClain clearly is the hot hand right now, but he is not displacing India.

    • Jim t

      Don’t think McClain is tied to Newman. I hope he is much more than a utility player. He is tied to an outfield spot or SS.

    • 2020ball

      McClain should take Maile’s spot, he’s basically just backing up Casali. They have 45 PA combined.

  5. DaveCT

    Well, Matt McClain apparently elected to develop his power last year at the cost of a pretty terrible strikeout rate. To be clear, I still don’t think he was simply selling out for power. On the contrary. The BA scouting report coming out of his year at Dayton leaned hard on McClain for a low power output. What’s impressive is his response — taking his AA year to learn to get to his power in games, and, now, at AAA to combine his bat to ball skills, his batting eye AND his power. I was one who doubted McClain. But no more. This kid is very, very impressive.

    • 2020ball

      I’ve seen his last year described as a down year by some. I saw nothing not to like, and was simply impressed he was able to add power into his profile. I’m excited to see him play.

      • DaveCT

        I had him as a high floor guy who was best suited as a platoon SS/2B or utility player, seeing him as contact guy with low power, or a high K guy with some pop, ie Gennett. I now see McCalin as a a regular and possibly even a first division regular.

  6. Mario

    I’m convinced McClain will be a future all star 2nd basemen. I see some Chase Utley competitiveness in him. I hope the kid is getting some OF reps to force the Reds to bring him up although I want him at SS unless India is moved to LF (or traded) next spring.

      • John

        Seems dumb to have him at 3b considering Elly, steer, Senzel, and 1B will be CES/Votto/McGarry pretty soon

      • DaveCT

        Similar to Steer and Senzel defensively, playing the best defender at the position. India is not great at 2B. One of the others may be better. That’s all. Not rocket science.

  7. Doc4uk

    McClain is a SS. Not sure Barrero is the answer at SS and maybe better suited as a CF assuming he can hit above .275

    • John

      I am not convinced or sold on barrero but am interested.

      Much better plate appearances and getting himself in more hitter friendly counts.

      His arm is his highlight so maybe 3b would be a good move….barrero just really needs to prove his worth or he will be traded or realessed this year with McLain Elly, India, steer, Senzel needing playing time