The Diamondbacks wasted n o time in surprising fans on Monday night, passing over a handful of highly anticipated prospects in favour of Matt McLain, a shortstop out of Beckham HS in Irvine, CA. So who is Matt McLain? Let’s have a look.
Ht: 5-10 / Wt: 175
Bats: R / Throws: R
California (S) Rank: 3
Scouting Report from Baseball America: McLain has taken advantage of a down year in Southern California this spring, hitting in seemingly every game he’s played. His performance was so strong, in fact, that area scouts began putting his name in the same conversation as fellow California shortstop Brice Turang—which would have seemed absurd just a year ago. A 5-foot-10, right-handed hitter without a ton of power, McLain doesn’t seem to profile as a top-50 pick, but he’s given himself a chance to be selected that high because he simply does everything well. He makes all the plays at shortstop as a soft-gloved infielder with agility, body control, impressive footwork and a solid arm, and he’s regularly given scouts plus running times down the line. While McLain is a shorter prospect, he’s not built slightly. He’s put on as much strength as he can for now, to the point where he’s showing some surprising power in games, although he’ll never project as a plus power hitter. He regularly hits the ball hard and with authority, frequently going to right-center with impact. McLain has shown enough bat-to-ball skills that scouts are putting a 50 or even 60 grade on his future hit tool. While some evaluators believe he might move off shortstop at the next level—he’s not a Nick Allen sort of defender—he’s hit enough this spring to rise up draft boards. Seemingly all of his tools have improved this spring, and with good makeup to top things off, it’s unlikely he ever sets foot on campus at UCLA, where he is committed.
Here is MLB’s take on him:
The scouting industry has come a long way in terms of not looking past undersized players. That works in the favor of a high school hitter like McLain, whose name was moving up boards as his he continued to excel this spring. While not the biggest guy in the world -- he’s listed at 5-foot-10 -- there is a lot to like in the SoCal prepster’s game. The right-handed hitter has been swinging the bat extremely well, showing the ability to hit for average and power. He’s super-athletic with plus run times down the line. One thing he doesn’t have is an obvious long-term defensive home. He plays a lot of shortstop now, and he can make steady plays there, but some feel he lacks the actions to stick there at the highest level. He has enough arm to play third and he’s looked good in the outfield, where his arm plays up even more, getting some time there last fall. McLain gets high marks for his plus instincts and work ethic, having worked very hard to get his body into premium condition. Some compare him to Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, with more speed, and some think the UCLA commit could go as early as the second round.
McLain is listed as a SS/2B, but many feel he will eventually wind up at second, where his soft glove and strong arm will serve him well. While he has no standout tools in his repertoire, all of his tools are solid. This gives him a somewhat limited ceiling, but a very high floor. If he lives up to his billing, he should be able to move quickly through the system.
The #25 slot value is $2.6 million, so the Diamondbacks have plenty of leverage to bring McLain into the fold. This should be a relatively easy sign, though he probably starts out in low short-season ball, just to see how his tools play.