The 2021 MLB Draft is rapidly approaching. Who could the Milwaukee Brewers take in the first round? Here’s a look at UCLA shortstop Matt McLain.
We’ve looked at a bunch of pitchers already in our draft profile series, but there are some hitters worth looking at as well.
Last year the Brewers took a talented hitter from the UCLA Bruins, and the addition of Garrett Mitchell has looked good so far. Perhaps it makes sense to double-dip from UCLA and get his former teammate in Matt McLain.
McLain was one of the stars on offense in a loaded UCLA lineup, hitting .333/.434/.579 with nine homers, 36 RBIs, 34 walks, and 34 strikeouts this season. His plus hit tool and plus speed make him a top of the order threat as a pro.
MLB Pipeline has McLain as their No. 12 Draft prospect this year with three projected “plus” tools (60 grade or higher on 20-80 scouting scale): hit bat, his speed, and his throwing arm. He should be able to stick at shortstop defensively, where his on-base ability and average power will play well.
He suffered a fractured thumb during the middle of the season but returned in time for the end of the year and help UCLA reach the NCAA Tournament, where they fell short in the Regional round.
McLain was a first round pick out of high school by Arizona in 2018, selected 25th overall, but did not sign and honored his commitment to UCLA. Now he stands to go higher in the 2021 Draft than he did three years ago.
Also, back in high school, McLain was on the Brewers Area Code Games roster in 2018, so the Crew is familiar with him. Current Brewers prospect Brice Turang was also on that Area Code Games roster and the Crew selected Turang 21st overall that year instead of McLain. Knowing McLain’s and Turang’s signability likely played a big factor in that as well.
While McLain is fast, he doesn’t have gaudy stolen base numbers in college, swiping just nine bags in 2021 and 16 total in 121 career college games.
The Brewers are in an interesting spot with their shortstop position, as Willy Adames has taken over the role and done well with it. With Adames under control for the next three years, perhaps Turang might become a trade chip at the deadline, and if the Brewers are able to add McLain to the fold in the Draft, that might make dealing Turang easier to stomach and the Crew still would have a shortstop in the pipeline that should be ready when and if Adames reaches free agency.
You don’t draft for current team needs in the MLB Draft, but rather try to look at what your needs will be in three to four years. Shortstop could be a need in three to four years, and if McLain is on the board at 15 overall, he would be a very good pick for the Brewers.
We’re getting closer and closer to the Draft, and the anticipation is building. The first round is on July 11th, and we’ll continue to prepare you for the Draft here at Reviewing the Brew.