Jays From the Couch counts down our 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects with #12, Reese McGuire
It’s that time of year again! We’re counting down our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects for 2017. We’ve selected our Top 15 and will be profiling each one. You are bound to find many of these lists in your travels, which makes for great conversation. The basis for rankings varies even more than the number of lists you’ll find. Some prefer to look at how close to “big league ready” a prospect is, while others look at “stuff” or “tools”. To construct our list, we have scoured over scouting reports, numbers and a lot more to finalize our 2017 Top Prospects list. Feel free to weigh in on each selection in the comment section! It’s part of the fun!
Catch up on our 2017 Top Prospects List HERE
Name: Reese McGuire
Born: March 2, 1995
Draft: 1st Round, 2013 by the Pittsburgh Pirates
Acquired in 2016’s deadline deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Drew Hutchison, Reese McGuire is a defense-first catcher and former first-round draft pick. McGuire was selected 14th overall in the 2013 draft out of Kentwood HS in Washington state. A product of USA Baseball, McGuire won gold at the 2012 U-18 world championships in Seoul, Korea. He was committed to attend the University of San Diego, but chose the fast-track to the major leagues instead. As of 2016, McGuire has widely been regarded as one of the top defensive catching prospects in all of baseball.
While a defense-first guy, McGuire’s development has been mostly concentrated on that side of his game, rather than the offensive side. He’s not a terrible batter, though he’ll likely never be the Buster Posey/Salvador Perez two-way threat, and seems to profile more like a Francisco Cervelli-type – which certainly is not a bad thing.
|Minors (4 seasons)||Minors||338||1418||1274||145||340||55||6||4||142||33||16||102||136||.267||.324||.329||.653||419|
It’s okay to be underwhelmed by McGuire’s Double-A numbers in 2016. He spent most of the season with the Altoona Curve (73 G) before the Francisco Liriano trade brought him to New Hampshire (13 G). His .254 AVG and single home run aren’t exciting anyone, but his peripheral stats raise a bit of an eyebrow. Even with a low AVG for Double-A, McGuire got on base at a .335 rate, striking out just 34 times to a solid 36 walks in 365 PA. McGuire isn’t a complete lost cause on the bases, either. Through four seasons, McGuire has swiped 33 bases in 49 attempts. However, he only attempted one base larceny in 2016 prior to his trade to the Blue Jays, where Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham sent him 11 times with six successful attempts.
So, McGuire isn’t a slugger. Most catchers aren’t. His life as a Blue Jay will be based on his defense, and as we can see in the video below, his defense is strong.
McGuire has excellent foot work behind the plate and features plus-athleticism, quick feet, soft hands for receiving and/or framing as well as what is sometimes considered elite arm strength. In a Bleacher Report scouting report (take that how you will), McGuire received glowing praise for his arm (80) and while being comped to MLB-regular Kurt Suzuki, was also predicted to be a first-division starting catcher with “multiple gold gloves” in his future. Textbook putting the cart before the proverbial horse, but Bleacher Report wasn’t the only one to heap such praise on him.
In a Scout’s Video post over at Baseball America (and posted below), McGuire was described as having a “good, athletic stance (behind the plate), setting him up to catch, block or throw, whatever the situation calls for.” Sound great? It gets better when McGuire hoses Adam Engel, thief of 179 bases in just four MiLB seasons: “…registered an elite pop time of 1.84 seconds. He’s got plus arm strength for sure, but the key is in his footwork, which is incredibly efficient. Every move is vertical and pointed towards his target.”
This video praises some his offensive skills, as well, describing McGuire’s swing as “rhytmic and balanced…leading to excellent bat speed.” While his swing is described as a bit long, the scout praises the fact that it is the same in both batting practice and in the game, potentially speaking to his work ethic and solid, consistent approach at the plate.
McGuire will likely start 2017 back with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. His track may be accelerated by a lack of signing a backup catcher for Russell Martin, but there still remains plenty of options on the open market and their prices are likely to drop in the waning weeks of the offseason. However, if AJ Jimenez gets his shot in 2016, McGuire might bump up to Triple-A Buffalo quicker than expected. Fellow C prospect Max Pentecost is another variable, but the offense-first Georgia native is yet to play above Single-A.
McGuire obviously has some things to work on in the minors before making the jump to The Show. He’s getting on base a good amount for a catcher who doesn’t clog the bases, but it would be great to see some of 18 doubles from 2016 carry over the fence and for him to just starting hitting with a little bit more authority. With his outstanding defensive skills, he doesn’t have to hit much to jump back into the Jays’ Top-10 prospects.
With the backup catcher depth in the Blue Jays system is sketchy, it wouldn’t be impossible to see McGuire behind the plate at Rogers Centre by 2019, after which Russell Martin becomes a free agent. By then he will be 23, which would be young for an MLB-ready catcher, but the widespread belief is that his defense can play at the MLB level, even if his bat never does.
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