The 2019 MLB draft is quickly approaching. Let’s take a look Kyle McCann and see why he should be on the Atlanta Braves radar.
McCann is a true homegrown talent. He grew up in Suwanee, Georgia and is a product of Lambert High School. He’s a hulking presence on the field, listed at 6’2 and 217 pounds, but even more intimidating when in his catching gear, looking larger than those listings suggest.
The now-junior catcher broke out in his sophomore campaign, splitting time between first base, catcher, and designated hitter. He put himself on the map, hitting .300 with 10 doubles and 15 home runs and posting a 1.023 OPS. He did strike out roughly 24% of the time, but he also walked well over 15% of the time in posting a .423 OBP.
McCann will be a bat-first catcher should he stick behind the plate. He continues to rake in his junior campaign, now hitting .305 with an ACC-best 18 home runs and a 1.162 OPS. There is no question now, after 32 home runs in his past 247 at bats that McCann’s power is for real.
(video from The Minor League Prospect Video Page)
The 21-year-old left-hander stands wide at the plate, back in the batter’s box. His bat is straight up with hardly any twirl as he awaits the offering. He has a well-timed leg kick and transfers his weight well, really using his body to generate power. And the power is big and to all fields, as he has had little issue getting the ball over the deepest parts of Russ Chandler Stadium on several (many?) occasions. This is quite the difference from his freshman campaign when he hit .198 and seemed like a pull-or-bust type of hitter.
The question mark is behind the plate. To be fair, this was McCann’s first season back behind the plate in a full-time role, and as we know, the catching position is one of the toughest to both endure and master. Apparently, it is not like riding a bike.
McCann has a big, powerful arm, although we’ve seen him struggle on accuracy, both on stolen bases and fielding bunts. He seems to have no problem getting out from behind home plate on bunts and lightly hit balls, but he’s also thrown a few behind the runner into right field foul territory.
He will need to work on his receiving skills as well, which in not incredibly uncommon for bigger catchers. He is suspect to letting some breaking balls get passed him that should be kept in front, but has shown a lot of improvement from the beginning of the year.
Where McCann goes is purely based on how much confidence a team has in his defense. If they plan on keeping him at catcher, he’ll become a second round commodity. The good thing for McCann is that he does have experience at multiple positions, which will keep him in the first few rounds no matter what. Another thing in his favor is Georgia Tech is Catcher U. They have a long history of pumping out quality catching prospects from Jason Varitek to Matt Wieters to Joey Bart, and that tradition seems to continue with McCann.
McCann started this season turning heads with the long ball, and while he has not kept that ludicrous pace up, he hasn’t regressed at all. He still has a big swing and will strikeout — he is striking out roughly 25% of the time — but continues to draw walks in bunches.
One area of concern is his time spent on the Cape last summer. He only had 21 hits in 96 at bats, with eight going for extra bases, only two of which were home runs. This has led a few to question how the power and hit-tool will translate with a wood bat (not this author, however), but 34 games is not a big enough sample size to hand down a final verdict.
There is no question McCann has added a tremendous amount of value to his draft day stock in 2019. His rise from undrafted high school catcher to a Day 1 possibility (and likelihood) has been fun to watch, especially if you enjoy the long ball. While the Braves suddenly have some catching depth, it still wouldn’t be out of the question to add McCann to the farm system.