Deck McGuire was the #11 pick in the Major League Baseball draft back in 2010. The Georgia Tech right handed pitcher had posted a 2.96 ERA in 112.2 innings for the Yellow Jackets as a junior with 33 walks and 118 strikeouts. Scouts, however, weren’t sold on his upside coming out of the draft despite a high draft spot. Baseball America’s pre-draft report had this:
McGuire’s stuff hasn’t been quite as crisp since then, and scouts have lowered their expectations for the 6-foot-6, 218-pounder, but most still see him as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the majors.
There’s nothing wrong with being a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but it seemed that his stuff had taken a step backward during his junior season a little bit. Still, those reports may have been a bit telling as Deck McGuire had plenty of ups-and-downs over the next seven seasons, all in the minor leagues.
The now 28-year-old right hander would have several strong seasons along the way, but he had some seasons in which he struggled, too. In was 2017 in which he may have put together his best season as a professional. Deck McGuire spent the entire year in Double-A Pensacola. With the Blue Wahoos he posted a 2.79 ERA in 168.0 innings with 57 walks and 170 strikeouts. He also threw 8.0 shutout innings with no walks and 13 more strikeouts in his playoff start that helped Pensacola sweep their way to a Southern League Co-Championship.
That season, that performance, it earned him a September call up with the Cincinnati Reds. Roster spots aren’t always earned based on pure performance. Sometimes the 40-man spots are given out based on future potential before guys are ready to play in the big leagues, but need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. That was not the case for Deck McGuire. His performance earned him his chance. He was coming off of a down season with the Cardinals Triple-A team where his ERA was 5.10 in 2016, but he put things together in the Reds system and dominated. And the team rewarded him for doing so.
It didn’t take long for Bryan Price to find a spot to use Deck McGuire. In his first day on the big league roster the Reds manager put him into the game. The game was out of reach when he entered the game, the Cardinals were already leading 13-4. For McGuire, though, it wasn’t a good situation as there were three runners on base when he took the mound and only one out. He needed five pitches to get out of the inning, getting Harrison Bader to ground into an inning ending double play. He returned for the 8th inning and worked around a 1-out error of his own doing to complete a 1.2 inning, shutout debut out of the bullpen that included a strikeout. While it could have gone better – we’re looking at you, error on the pop up – the debut went quite well from an individual standpoint.
In the game Deck McGuire showed three pitches. He worked with his 4-seam fastball in the 91-93 MPH range, touching 94. He also mixed in a slider in the mid-80’s and a curveball in the mid-70s. Pitch efficient, McGuire needed just 15 pitches to record five outs and that included dealing with an error along the way to extend the outing. He would throw nine fastballs, four sliders and two curveballs. The Reds have stated he will be used out of the bullpen. He’s only pitched out of the bullpen in one season during his career – 2015. In 32.2 innings that season as a reliever he posted a 2.48 ERA with 13 walks and 29 strikeouts. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts back to that kind of role and just how frequently he will be used by Bryan Price. Equally as interesting will be to see how he performs with this long awaited opportunity.