Pro Bruin Rundown: Matt McLain impresses in first MLB season; alumni shine in NBA Summer League
Shortstop Matt McLain looks at the dugout while preparing for an at bat. McLain was called up by the Cincinnati Reds in May and has impressed in his rookie campaign. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin senior staff)
July 7, 2023 12:43 p.m.
This post was updated July 10 at 10:10 p.m.
As UCLA Athletics takes a break for the summer, professional sports are still in full swing, with many Bruin alumni representing. Each week during the summer, Daily Bruin Sports will take a look at the standout performances of former UCLA greats from the past week as we count down the days until fall.
Baseball: Matt McLain, Cincinnati Reds; Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Former Bruin Matt McLain is making headlines in his first season in the major leagues.
McLain played for UCLA baseball as primarily a shortstop from 2019 to 2021 before being selected No. 17 overall in the 2021 MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He was called up May 15 after playing just 172 games over two and a half years in the Reds’ minor league system.
The former Bruin rose through the minor league ranks in less than three seasons, a feat that only 15% of first and second-round draft picks accomplish, according to Business Insider.
Since his debut May 15, McLain has played in 47 games, slashing .295/.365/.515. The newly minted Red has collected 26 extra-base hits, with seven home runs and 29 runs batted in.
Through his first 37 games, McLain tallied more doubles and the same number of home runs as Reds first baseman Joey Votto did in his first 37 contests in Cincinnati. Votto – now a 17-year veteran on the Reds’ roster – has a .297 career batting average and 347 home runs in 2005 career games. McLain’s 92 bases through June 28 place him second on the list for number of total bags in a Reds player’s first 40 games.
While McLain impressed on his first time on the big stage, it wasn’t enough to earn him a ticket to the All-Star Game. However, fellow former Bruin and current New York Yankee right-hander Gerrit Cole made the cut.
MLB announced the full All-Star lineup Tuesday, with this year featuring Cole as one of 10 American League pitchers on the roster. The nod marked Cole’s sixth in 11 years in the major leagues – and third consecutive selection – after playing for UCLA baseball from 2009 to 2011.
Cole has tallied an 8-2 record through 18 starts in his fourth season in the Bronx. The right-hander holds a 2.79 ERA and has collected 118 strikeouts, good for seventh and tenth best among starters, respectively.
Men’s Basketball: Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami Heat; Amari Bailey, Charlotte Hornets
Bruin alumni have taken their talents to the Summer League after hearing their names called in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and guard Amari Bailey departed UCLA men’s basketball at the end of the 2023 season and have already begun their professional careers. Jaquez, who played for the Bruins from 2019 to 2023, was selected No. 18 by the Miami Heat in the NBA Draft, while Bailey’s one year with UCLA earned him a second-round pick at No. 41 overall to the Charlotte Hornets.
Both players entered the Summer League shortly after being drafted, beginning with the California Classic in Sacramento.
Jaquez and Bailey secured team highs in scoring over two contests each in Sacramento. The former tallied 22 points in the Heat’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday and the latter chalked up 17 in the Hornet’s loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
Two slam dunks highlighted Bailey’s summer debut with the Hornets in 17 minutes of playing time coming off the bench. Jaquez also wowed crowds with a dunk of his own, pairing his 22 points with an 8-15 mark from the field and a 3-3 performance from the free throw line in 22 minutes as a starting forward.
Jaquez and Bailey are not the only former Bruins participating in the Summer League this year. Guards Tyger Campbell, Jaylen Clark, Johnny Juzang, David Singleton, Peyton Watson and Jules Bernard, all of whom finished at UCLA in the last two years, will have the chance to make their mark this summer when the Las Vegas NBA Summer League kicks off Friday.