On Tuesday night, minutes before first pitch, the announcer at Paul Thomas Field announced the Bells’ newest member – the No. 25 overall pick in the MLB Draft, Matt McClain.
Batting fifth and taking second base for Bellingham was the Bruin freshman to be, just days following his announcement that he chose to play for UCLA over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“It was a long-time decision with my family and I,” McLain said in an interview before his first contest in a Bells’ uniform. “It was a good decision for me in the end, I mean the Diamondbacks are a great organization and everything, but UCLA is the best decision for me at this moment.”
McLain was drafted following his senior year at Arnold O. Beckman High School. Perfect Game ranked McLain as the fourth-best overall high school prospect in California and the 10th ranked shortstop in the country.
"As a coaching staff and a program, we are very excited that Matt has chosen UCLA to be his home for the next few years," said head coach John Savage in a UCLA press release. "We knew that Matt was faced with a life-changing decision and we gave him and his family all the information they needed to make that choice. At the end of the day, it was Matt's decision and we couldn't be happier that he is joining our program."
As a senior, McLain’s .390 average, five home runs, and 35 runs scored crowned him as the Pacific Coast Player of the Year for the second time and a spot on the Orange County register All-County Team and the ABCA All-Region 8 Team in the spring.
“Everyone is super close-knit at my high school,” McLain said. “A lot of us have been playing together since eight and ten years old. It was really one of a kind. I couldn’t ask for anything better in a high school experience.”
The five-foot 11-inch right-handed hitter out of Tustin, Calif. will be joining Nick Nastrini, another incoming freshman for the Bruins this upcoming spring. McLain has joined the Bells with the majority of the second-half of the season remaining.
McLain said he is not looking at one part of his game that needs work. The middle infielder said he will be looking to improve his game to be a better all-around player for the remaining month of the regular season.
In his first game back from baseball after a long two months following the end of his high school career, McLain went 1-for-4 after collecting his first hit of the summer on a two-out single in the top of the eighth inning.
After having clinched a playoff spot in the first half of the season, McLain will have a chance to help Bellingham bring home its second West Coast League Title, the first since 2014.