The 2020 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit our Handbook home page for more information!
Now is a great time to subscribe to the Blue Jays from Away Premium Content Section!
We continue our look at the 2020 Blue Jays by examining another of the Blue Jays’ young catchers: Reese McGuire.
McGuire, 25, was a highly-touted prospect going back to when he was drafted 14th overall in the 2013 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Always prized for his defense, his offense was expected to come along as he developed, since he was a rare high-school catcher drafted as high as he was.
McGuire was highly ranked in the Pirates’ organization, peaking as the club’s #5 prospect in 2015 and was a top-100 prospect in baseball for Baseball America, MLB and Baseball Prospectus, making seven Top-100 lists over the 2014-2016 seasons. He hit well in short-season ball in his debut season and put up a .262/.307/.334 slash line in his first full-season action in 2014 and a .254/.301/.294 slash line in his second full season in 2015, reaching Advanced-A Bradenton.
In 2016, McGuire reached Double-A, starting with Altoona for the Pirates and then joining the New Hampshire Fisher Cats after he was traded with Francisco Liriano and Harold Ramirez for Drew Hutchison. Over the course of that season, he hit a total of .254/.335/.332 in 365 plate appearances but his prospect shine was starting to wear off as his bat wasn’t coming around.
In 2017, McGuire spent most of the year injured, only playing in 45 games total (34 at Double-A with three in Advanced-A Dunedin and eight in the GCL). He did start to show more with the bat in his 34 games in New Hampshire, hitting .278/.366/.496 with five doubles, a triple and six home runs.
In 2018, McGuire broke into the major leagues, although he played most of the season in Buffalo (96 games) with a .233/.312/.339 slash line. When called up, he played in 14 games and had a stellar .290/.333/.581 slash line with three doubles and two homers at the major league level.
2019 was a similar result for McGuire, playing 72 games in Buffalo with a .247/.316/.366 line over 277 plate appearances while hitting .299/.346/.526 in 104 plate appearances in Toronto.
McGuire was set to come into 2020 as the Blue Jays’ back up catcher and he hit .200/.238/.400 in nine spring training games, hitting a home run. But McGuire made the news in spring training for another, less impressive accomplishment: getting arrested for public exposure. While his arrest and all the issues around it were resolved (and he didn’t have to remain in the US during the season due to the COVID shutdown), it was definitely not a great mark on his resume.
When baseball began, McGuire was the Blue Jays’ backup catcher but failed to hit enough to stay in the lineup. He was sent to the Alternate Training Site on September 5, effectively ending his regular season. He was brought back to be on the playoff roster and got into one game, playing as a defensive replacement.
Overall, in 2020, McGuire got into 19 games for the Jays and had a .073/.073/.146 slash line with three hits in 45 plate appearances, hitting one home run. McGuire’s contact (in a small sample size) was not nearly as good as it had been in the past. His exit velocity, which averaged 86.7 mph in 2019, dropped to 82.1 mph in 2020 while his launch angle, averaging 13.1 degrees in 2019, fell to 1.5 degrees in 2020.
Again, 2020 sample sizes are small, but the drop off in launch angle and exit velocity and corresponding advanced metrics are all worrisome. Will he recover in 2021 to be an adequate back up to Danny Jansen? Or will he continue to get passed on the depth chart for guys like Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno?
If you like us here, like us on Facebook!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2020) and may not be used without permission.