MLB Draft Profile: Matt McLain

MLB Draft Profile: Matt McLain

by May 8, 2021 4 comments

There are a few shortstop prospects who could go in the top half of the MLB amateur draft in July. UCLA’s Matt McLain is one of them. He also has the advantage of being an advanced college bat, whereas the other top shortstops are prep players. Let’s take a look at the kid from Southern California.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Draft Profiles.

Matt McLain, Shortstop, UCLA

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Age: 21
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
2019: 61 G – .203/.276/.355, 4 HRs, 6 SBs
2020: 13 G – .397/.422/.621, 3 HRs, 1 SB
2021: 39 G – .325/.432/.578, 9 HRs, 9 SBs

Scouting Grades

Hit: 60
Power: 50
Run: 60
Arm: 55
Field: 50
Overall: 55

Matt McLain was originally selected 25th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018 out of High School. Surprisingly, he chose to go to UCLA instead of taking first-round money. As you can see from the stats above, his college career didn’t start off well. He played mostly in centerfield his freshman year and it seemingly affected his hitting. McLain has been strictly a shortstop the past two years and his offense has taken off.

Strengths

Although he is considered a bit undersized, McLain has excellent bat-to-ball skills. He is stronger than his size would indicate and has added a bit of power to his game. The 21-year-old has a compact swing with a medium stride and minimal leg kick. He gets the barrel straight to the ball and has a similar swing to his Wareham teammate Adrian Del Castillo, albeit from the right side. Despite his poor performance in his first year with the Bruins, McLain showed well in the Cape Cod League over the summers of 2018 and 2019. With the wood bat, he slashed .281/.384/.432 with five homers and 10 steals in 57 games.

The UCLA shortstop is smooth on the infield and turns double plays with control and ease. He played a bit all over the diamond when he was with Wareham in 2019, but he certainly looks more comfortable on the dirt. He has the speed and athleticism to play anywhere up the middle, including centerfield if necessary. McLain’s speed is undeniable and he gets going quickly which should help him swipe 20-30 bags at the major league level. If he gets to play for a team with a spacious home outfield, leading the league in triples is a foreseeable possibility.

Weaknesses

There aren’t many glaring weaknesses to McLain’s game. He is toolsy and is at least average across the board. His arm has some scouts doubting if he will stick at shortstop at the next level. The SoCal kid is accurate with his throws but may struggle to get the ball across the diamond with authority from the hole. The power has shown up more this year. However, due to his lack of size and pedestrian launch angle, many believe he will be capped at 15-20 HRs in the majors.

Pro Comparison: Dustin Pedroia

McLain’s body type is strikingly similar to Pedroia’s and their swings are not too different. From 2008-2012 Pedroia averaged 40 doubles, 16 HRs, and 19 SBs while batting .303. That’s probably around where the UCLA product would be. With a bit more speed than the former Red Sox second baseman and the ability to possibly stick at shortstop, McLain could turn into a better value for the team that drafts him.

Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 11, Washington Nationals

In each of the past four years, the Nationals have drafted a pitcher in the first round. This year that changes as they look to bring in an athletic infielder. In a few years, we could see the fastest double play tandem in baseball playing in DC with McLain and Trea Turner. But wherever the Nats decide to put McLain, they will be getting a well-rounded player who is polished offensively, and versatile defensively.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

 

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