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McLain Selected No. 17 Overall by Cincinnati in MLB Draft

Jul 11, 2021
Matt McLain (photo: Don Liebig)

LOS ANGELES – Junior shortstop Matt McLain was selected with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday evening. 

At No. 17, McLain becomes the highest-picked UCLA position player since Chase Utley was taken No. 15 overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2000 draft.

With McLain's selection, UCLA has now had a player picked in the first round of the MLB Draft in three consecutive seasons, a program-first. Outfielder Garrett Mitchell was the No. 20 overall pick by Milwaukee in 2020, and first baseman Michael Toglia started the streak after going No. 23 overall to Colorado in 2019. Prior to the current streak, UCLA had never had a position player selected in the first round in back-to-back seasons.

Over the past 17 years under head coach John Savage, UCLA has had 108 MLB draftees, including 42 inside the first 10 rounds. McLain is the 10th Bruin all-time to be drafted by the Cincinnati organization, and the first since Zack Weiss in 2013.

McLain has been a starter in all three of his seasons at UCLA, putting together a career slash line of .279/.260/.478 and batting well over .300 in both his sophomore and junior campaigns.

The Tustin, Calif. native was a Second Team All-American as a sophomore in 2020 after slashing .397/.422/.621 with a team-high 19 RBIs over 13 games. He continued to swing a hot bat as a junior in 2021, slashing .333/.434/.579 with nine home runs en route to Pac-12 All-Conference Team honors. One of the top defensive shortstops in the nation, McLain didn't make a single error after Mar. 27 of this season.

McLain appeared in 61 games as a true freshman in 2019, helping that year's UCLA squad record a program-record 52 wins. He was the team's primary center fielder that season before making the move to shortstop in 2020.

This marks the second time in McLain's career that he's been drafted in the first round. Arizona made him the No. 25 overall pick in 2018, but McLain opted to honor his commitment to UCLA.

Two players in program history, McLain and Gerrit Cole, have attended UCLA after being a first round draft pick out of high school. Both were drafted significantly higher after their junior seasons in Westwood (Cole was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft after going No. 28 overall in 2008).

The MLB Draft continues over the next two days, with rounds 2-10 taking place on Monday followed by rounds 11-20 on Tuesday.

Stay tuned to @UCLABaseball on Twitter for all team updates.

UCLA First-Round MLB Draft Choices Under John Savage

Matt McLain, SS – 2021
Garrett Mitchell, OF – 2020
Michael Toglia, 1B – 2019
James Kaprielian, RHP – 2015
Jeff Gelalich, OF – 2012
Gerrit Cole, RHP – 2011
Trevor Bauer, RHP – 2011
David Huff, LHP – 2006