PHOENIX -- One thing about all three players selected by the D-backs on the first day of the 2018 Draft: They are all good athletes who can run and play in the middle of the diamond.• Draft Tracker: Follow every D-backs Draft pick:: 2018 Draft coverage ::The D-backs selected shortstop
PHOENIX -- One thing about all three players selected by the D-backs on the first day of the 2018 Draft: They are all good athletes who can run and play in the middle of the diamond.
• Draft Tracker: Follow every D-backs Draft pick
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
The D-backs selected shortstop Matt McLain out of Beckman (Calif.) High School with the 25th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, which began Monday night.
With their pick in the Competitive Balance Round A (39th overall), the D-backs picked University of Virginia outfielder Jake McCarthy.
And in their final pick Monday, the D-backs selected high school outfielder Alek Thomas in the second round (63rd overall).
The Draft continues Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. MST, with exclusive coverage beginning at 10 a.m. MST.
For D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier, taking the up-the-diamond players was the way to go given last year's Draft in which the team selected first baseman Pavin Smith, third baseman Drew Ellis and catcher Daulton Varsho with the first three picks.
"Last year we felt like we went after thumpers on the corners and obviously Daulton Varsho behind the plate," Ladnier said. "But we did want to increase the speed within our system and the athletic ability within our system. I think this Draft just really balances out last year's Draft, quite frankly, and now you have a good core of corner guys, and you have a good core of up the middle guys."
McLain has moved up the Draft boards thanks to an excellent spring. The 5-foot-10 right-handed hitter has hit for both average and power.
McLain, 18, plays shortstop in high school, but his athleticism means he is versatile. He has the arm to play third and he got some time in the outfield last fall, displaying an above-average arm.
Ladnier said the D-backs plan to play McLain as a shortstop and the team did a deep dive on him, going so far as to attend some of his high school practices to get a feel for his intangibles.
"First and foremost, the bat," Ladnier said when asked what they liked about McLain. "We felt like it was a very advanced high school bat. He has a short compact swing. He'll end up having some power. Everyone in our organization from top to bottom felt like this young man was going to hit,"
In 26 games for Beckman this past season, he slashed .369/.461/.595. He was named First-Team All-Pacific Coast League in each of his four years of high school and twice won conference Player of the Year honors in 2015 and 2018.
Along with younger brothers Nick and Sean, he helped lead Beckman to the California Southern Section Division 2 championship game last week, where they lost to Yucaipa High School.
McLain is committed to go to UCLA and is said to have an outstanding work ethic. He is being advised by agent Scott Boras, but Ladnier sounded confident that the D-backs would get him signed.
McCarthy has outstanding speed. During his sophomore season, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference while stealing 27 bases in 29 attempts. He missed part of his junior season due to a broken wrist.
The D-backs got familiar with McCarthy last year while scouting Smith at Virginia and planned on targeting him this year.
"He's been a consistent performer from a very good program," Ladnier said. "He's obviously a very good center fielder. We watched this kid for a very long time."
Thomas, who played three sports at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, is the son of White Sox director of strength and conditioning Allen Thomas.
The 18-year-old has a compact left-handed stroke with good bat speed and a mature approach at the plate.
Thomas runs extremely well and has been compared to the likes of Boston's Andrew Benintendi. He had committed to play baseball at Texas Christian University.
"He's a plus runner," Ladnier said. "He can play center field. I do think he's going to come into some power, because he's very strong, he has a compact swing. Talked to him tonight, he's very excited to get his career started. Wants to get signed and get out here."
The slot value for the 25th overall pick is $2,363,400, while it's $1,834,500 for the Comp A pick and $1,035,500 for the 63rd overall pick.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.