Well, this sucks. This is the second MLB draft in which I am eligible, and for the second consecutive year, my name wasn’t called on the first day. I guess teams aren’t looking for a kid who sat on the bench his senior year and played soccer instead of baseball. My eight-year-old self is disappointed. But enough about me.
Let’s take a look at the what the Arizona Diamondbacks did on the first day of the draft. In the first round, with the twenty-fifth pick, Arizona took second baseman Matt McLain out of high school. He’s listed as a second baseman on MLB.com’s draft tracker, but Jim Callis of MLB.com called him a shortstop in his pick-by-pick analysis. In their second pick, number 39 in competitive balance round A, the Diamondbacks took Jake McCarthy, an outfielder out of the University of Virginia. In their final pick of the day, the D-backs selected high school outfielder Alek Thomas.
So there’s the confusion about whether McLain is a shortstop or a second baseman. I really hope he’s a second baseman. Remember the last time the D-backs took a shortstop in the first round? The Diamondbacks writers here at Armchair certainly do.
Arizona possibly stretched to get McLain at 25. He’s ranked 54th on MLB’s top 200 draft prospects. Keith Law ranked him 53. Deric Ladnier, the Diamondbacks’ amateur scouting director emphasized that the D-backs were focusing on “extra athleticism, extra speed,” in this year’s draft, according to Arizonasports.com, and that’s what Arizona got with McLain. McLain hit .369 in his senior year with 14 RBI and three home runs.
McLain played football as a sophomore, in addition to baseball. He played cornerback and wide receiver. He showed, while on the gridiron, good hands, quick feet, good awareness, and an ability to track the ball. Those skills translate really well to the diamond.
While the Diamondbacks may have stretched for McLain, that’s not the case with Jake McCarthy. Arizona took McCarthy with the 39th overall pick and 39th is exactly where MLB’s top 200 list has McCarthy.
If you follow Armchair All-Americans on Twitter, you might be able to infer that we think McCarthy made the wrong choice when he decided to pursue baseball. Why the Scranton native didn’t decide to sell paper at a local company, we’ll never know.
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The junior out of Virginia hit .329 this past season with 12 RBI and a .829 OPS in a season shortened by a wrist injury suffered in March. However, it was McCarthy’s sophomore season that put him on the map. He started all 59 games in the outfield, hitting .338 with 36 RBI and five home runs. Before this past season, he was unanimously named a preseason All-American.
Thomas, ranked 41st on MLB’s top 200 list, was taken in the second round with the 63rd overall pick. However, he expressed to Pat Disabato of the Chicago Tribune his desire to be a first-round pick.
“My goal has always been to be someone’s first-round pick. It’s been my dream. I want to be someone’s guy. It doesn’t matter which team,” he said, according to Disabato.
Thomas is committed to TCU to play both baseball and football and has openly flirted with the idea of heading off to Fort Worth instead of signing with a team, especially if he were to fall out of the first round, which he did.
“I want to be a first-rounder, but if not, it will be a harder decision. The later you go in the draft, you have to really think about your education,” Thomas said, according to Disabato.
Thomas really fits the bill of what the D-backs were looking for. According to Prep Baseball Report, Thomas’s 60 time is 6.43 seconds and his home-to-first time is 4.04 seconds. His home-to-first time puts him with the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Correa and Mookie Betts, who all had 4.04 home-to-first times in the first month and a half of last season, according to FanGraphs.