Brian McCann Prospect Retro
Brian McCann was drafted in the second round in 2002, out of high school in Duluth, Georgia. A high school All-American, his bat was well-regarded but questions about his defense kept him out of the first round. He hit just .220/.295/.330 in 29 games in rookie ball, too small a sample to worry about. I gave him a Grade C in the 2003 book, noting that the scouting reports were good for his hitting, but that the numbers weren't yet, granted the sample was small. "We'll have to see what happens when he gets more at-bats," I wrote.
The at-bats came in 2003 and so did better performance: he hit .290/.329/.462 with 12 homers in 424 at-bats for Rome in the Sally League. His OPS was solid at +15 percent, and his defense improved. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '04 book; in retrospect I should have given him at least a B- and probably a straight B given the improvement he'd shown compared to rookie ball. I noted that his plate discipline needed some work, and that Young Catcher Stagnation Syndrome was a risk, but that he was worth watching closely.
Despite his improvement and his draft status, he wasn't getting a lot of press attention.
McCann hit .278/.337/.494 with 16 homers in 2004 for Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. His defense continued to improve, and given the difficult hitting nature of his home park, his numbers were very strong. I bumped him up to Grade B+ in the '05 book, noting that I liked him a lot and that "he will be very, very good" if YCSS didn't strike.
McCann began '05 in Double-A, hitting .265/.359/.476 in 48 games. Promoted to the Braves, he hit .278/.345/.400 in 59 games, then broke out big-time in '06 with his monster .333/.388/.572 season.
Scouts always liked McCann's hitting potential. After a rough start in rookie ball, the numbers steadily improved as he moved up the ladder, gaining strength, confidence, and better strike zone judgment. His defense has turned out better than anticipated by many. The main question now (as it is for all young catchers) is durability, and if he is able to sustain this kind of production while carrying a backstop load.