According to MLB.com beat writer Mark Sheldon, the Cincinnati Reds top infield prospect, Matt McLain, is ticketed to start the 2022 season at Double-A Chattanooga. A quick stop in Dayton to begin the season may be on the docket as well, but it seems more likely that McLain will be the Lookouts starting shortstop.
McLain was drafted last season with the 17th overall pick and hit the ground running after signing for a $4.63M. McLain made his professional debut for High-A Dayton last season. Appearing in 29 games for the Dragons, McLain posted a slash line of .273/.387.424 and a wRC+ of 127. McLain showed great patience at the dish with a 14.3% walk-rate.
Matt McLain will likely debut at the Reds' Double-A affiliate.
Matt McLain fell to the Cincinnati Reds during last summer's draft. McLain was widely viewed by many scouts as a Top 10 draft eligible prospect. Both McLain and fellow shortstop Kahlil Watson tumbled out of the Top 10 with the Wake Forest High School product taken just one spot above McLain at No. 16.
McLain, per Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender, is likely to play shortstop. That said, Pender also mentioned the possibility of McLain switching positions in order to get his bat into the everyday lineup. We've looked, in the past, at the possibility of McLain landing in the outfield.
"“We’ll look to send him to Dayton or Chattanooga, but we’ll see how it works out. He’s looked good. We feel like we know we’ve got a really good baseball player who has the tools to play shortstop and the bat to play someplace else if there’s another option for him to be there.”"- Shawn Pender, Reds VP of Player Devt.
McLain has the athleticsm and the arm strength to play center field. Depending on how things unfold this season with former first-round pick Nick Senzel, McLain may well be introduced to the outfield while playing in the minors this season.
The Reds currently have Kyle Farmer installed as the starting shortstop, though Jose Barrero is going to get his shot this season as well. If neither player develops the way Cincinnati assumes they will, McLain is on deck and will likely be ready to debut in 2023.
The Cincinnati Reds also have a bevy of talented shortstops in the farm system as well. Ivan Johnson, Jose Torres, and Elly De La Cruz all play shortstop as well. Matt McLain is the Reds top-rated infield prospect per MLB Pipeline. Hopefully, the 22-year-old continues to develop at Double-A Chattanooga this season.