First-round pick Matt McLain has informed the Diamondbacks that he will attend UCLA rather than sign with them, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter). The D-backs offered McLain the full slot value of $2,636,400 for the No. 25 overall selection, according to Heyman, but it appears he’ll forgo that considerable sum to play collegiate ball.
McLain, a high school infielder out of California, went considerably higher than most pre-draft rankings had forecast. None of Baseball America, Fangraphs, ESPN or MLB.com ranked him inside the Top 50 players in the draft class, though he was generally slotted into the 50 to 70 range.
Reports on McLain agree that he was one of the most polished high school bats in the draft, though there were concerns about his size (5’10”, 175 pounds), lack of plus speed and the potential that he’d need to move off of shortstop. Reports from both MLB.com and ESPN noted that his strongest advocates likened him to Alex Bregman, and certainly the Diamondbacks appear to have been among those teams most bullish on him, based on the aggressive selection in the first round.
Because McLain won’t sign, the D-backs will lose that $2,636,400 from their bonus pool. They will, however, be awarded a compensatory selection at No. 26 overall in 2019. That won’t do their lackluster farm system any immediate favors, but it’ll give the D-backs more opportunity to be creative in next year’s draft. They’re now the second NL West team who’ve been spurned by their top pick; right-hander J.T. Ginn announced last night that he would attend Mississippi State rather than sign with the Dodgers.
Technically, McLain has until 5pm ET to change his mind at the eleventh hour, though that outcome seems decidedly unlikely based on Heyman’s report.