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Rockies select McCade Brown in 3rd round of MLB Draft

The first (actual) Hoosier is off the board in this year’s baseball draft

Screencap | Courtesy Big Ten Network
Screencap | Big Ten Network Plus

For 13 consecutive summers from 2007 through 2019, Indiana had at least one player picked in the annual Major League Baseball Draft. With the event cut to five rounds last June amid the COVID-19 pandemic, IU saw its streak come to an end.

But with Colorado’s selection of right-hander McCade Brown on Tuesday afternoon, the Hoosiers are poised to start a new run of fortune over the years to come. Brown, a 6-foot-6 rising junior, earned second-team All-Big Ten honors for the Hoosiers this spring, striking out 97 batters over 61 innings, holding hitting to a .164 average and working to a 3.39 ERA on the mound.

When Brown was on, he was dominant — as evidenced by his 16 strikeouts in seven innings during a combined no-hitter against Penn State on March 13. Brown, however, also struggled with command at times, ending his season with eight walks in a three-inning outing at Maryland on May 29. MLB.com ranked him as the No. 103 overall player in this year’s draft pool, while The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked him at No. 83.

He’s just the fifth Hoosier to be selected inside the top 100 during the past 10 years, following Matt Gorski (No. 57, Pittsburgh, 2019), Sam Travis (No. 67, Boston, 2014), Kyle Schwarber (No. 4, Chicago Cubs, 2014) and Alex Dickerson (No. 91, Pittsburgh, 2011).

Here’s MLB.com’s partial scouting report on Brown:

Brown pitched at 92-95 mph and topped out at 97 during the summer and fall, with strong fastball metrics that give his heater late hop and get it on hitters quicker than they can anticipate, and he opened 2021 with similar velocity before tailing off a bit in April. He generates power and high spin rates on a curveball that sits around 80 mph, and he also will show a harder slider. His changeup lags behind his other offerings in part because he has had little opportunity to use it.

Even more than developing a changeup, improving his control and command is the key to determining whether Brown can make it as a starter. He threw more strikes in the Kernels League but was erratic again this spring, when he fanned 28 and walked two in his first two starts before his control and command deteriorated because he’s still learning to repeat his delivery and release point on a consistent basis. His lack of experience and the projection remaining in his 6-foot-6 frame give him more room for improvement than a typical third-year college arm.

And here’s what Law says:

Brown has first-round stuff, and if you get him on the right weekend — like at Rutgers last weekend, when he struck out 11 in 7 innings, allowing just 1 hit and 3 walks — you might put him there on your draft board, but he’s so erratic that he’s going to go in the second round or later. He has a starter’s build and despite some head violence it’s not a terrible delivery; he just doesn’t throw anything consistently for strikes. Outside of his two outings against the Scarlet Knights, he’s thrown 33 innings this year with 27 walks and 54 strikeouts.

Brown is the first player in program history to be selected by Colorado.

Major League Baseball is conducting round Nos. 2-10 on Monday, followed by round Nos. 11-20 on Tuesday. The White Sox selected IU signee Colson Montgomery during Monday’s first round.