The Cincinnati Reds came into the MLB Draft last night with picks 17, 30, and 35. That’s the most picks for a team in night one. They went out and got three position players with those picks and loaded up on some really good talent. So let’s talk about all three.
The Reds selected Matt McLain with the first of three total picks. He is a small but explosive shortstop out of UCLA. His size is something scouts worried about when McLain’s name would come up. He was good enough to be drafted in 2018 to the Diamondbacks at the 25th pick but decided to believe in himself and go to college to better his game for the future.
He struggled his freshman year at the plate by only coming up with a batting average of .203. He then looked better in the shortened pandemic season and would go on to break out this past season. He slashed an impressive .333/.434/.579 in 2021 with much of his success coming with a lot of hard contact. His defense also greatly improved from year to year.
Although some scouts don’t know if he will stick at shortstop in the big leagues, the Reds are the only people who get to decide where he plays. Personally, I like his glove and his initial quickness in the field is enough for him to be a future shortstop option for this Reds team.
Major League player comparison: David Fletcher
The middle pick was surprising for me as I expected the Reds to go with a pitcher with some serious upside and room to grow. They did not. Instead, they drafted outfielder Jay Allen out of John Carrol Catholic High School. He is a freak athlete in the field and on the base paths, which is what I’m most excited for. He was a top two sport athlete in Florida as a quarterback and an outfielder, which is something I personally love to hear for a future centerfielder.
As a hitter his power is coming around the older and stronger he gets. He is going to be a hitter that can find the gap here and there and also the potential for some 20 homer power seasons. He will be a real threat on the basepaths as well. Allen could be a future leadoff hitter. He is still very raw but is one heck of an athlete that I can’t wait to watch chase down balls in centerfield in the future in GABP.
Major League Player Comparison: Lorenzo Cain
Finally, with the 35th overall pick of the MLB draft the Cincinnati Reds selected catcher Matheu Nelson out of Florida State University. Nelson was named 2021 Johnny Bench Catcher of the year, which is a great award for a future Reds catcher to win.
First off, let’s just start by saying this guy can straight mash the baseball. He landed a slash line of .330/.436/.773 in 2021. Not to mention his 23 homers and 66 RBIs. He has such an aggressive bat, and he is always looking for the long ball. However, that does lead to him swinging and missing a lot. I don’t see that as a problem for him in the future if he can translate his massive power to the MLB.
Defensively he is considered stable and reliable. Two great words to describe a player defensively. What really gets me excited about Nelson is his explosive and timely arm behind the plate. Throwing guys out on his knees seems very normal and easy for him in his highlight tape.
Major League Player Comparison: Mitch Garver
At the end of the day, the Cincinnati Reds went out and got the best player available in their eyes and the players that have the most room to grow. My favorite pick was Jay Allen even though he does have much room to grow. I really like his ceiling. Look for the Reds to go pitcher on day two.