Being selected in the first round of the MLB Draft is an incredible accomplishment. Being selected twice in the first round of the MLB Draft is almost unheard of. This was the case for the Cincinnati Reds top selection in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Introducing the 17th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Matt McClain, a shortstop from UCLA.
In 2018, the Arizona Diamondbacks used their first round selection to select McClain as a shortstop out of high school. Instead of signing, McClain opted to attend UCLA to potentially boost his draft stock over the next three years. And boost his stock is exactly what he did.
Over his three years in college, McClain has done nothing but develop his game and increase his overall value as a prospect. He posted a career batting average of .297, but most impressive is his batting average over the last season and a half(.349). In that span of 60 games, he also tallied 12 home runs, 18 doubles and two triples, to go along with drawing 38 walks.
Along with his productivity at the plate, McClain also did his part to increase his value by becoming more versatile. Although it wasn’t completely his decision, his UCLA coaches decided to experiment with him at multiple positions. In his three seasons at UCLA, McClain played three different positions: Shortstop, centerfield and third base. Not only did he play them, but he played them well, going 349 for 361 on fielding chances in his collegiate career, good for an impressive .967 fielding percentage.
In his three years at college, McClain did nothing besides impress scouts, even being seen as a potential top 5 pick in the draft. The Reds got a steal with McClain and the sky is the limit for this young prospect.
McClain has been a shortstop for his entire life and he continues to project as a middle infielder as he was drafted into the big leagues. He is listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, which is rather small for a big league shortstop.
The Reds are no stranger to switching a players position to fit the teams needs. Just this year, the Reds moved Eugenio Suarez from third base over to shortstop for the beginning of the year. They have also made switches with Nick Senzel, using him in the outfield as well as in the infield. Tyler Stephenson, the Reds rookie catcher, has also been moved to first base to fit the Reds needs.
For McClain though, only time will tell. More than likely, he will continue to play shortstop, as that is the most valued and useful position for an infielder to have. Everything is subject to change as he begins his accent through the Reds farm system and gets closer to the big leagues as the years go by.
Although the future for the young prospect is unknown, a few things are for certain. The Reds drafted a polished infielder and McClain has the potential to be a star.
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