Continuing our look at the Mets’ options with the seventh overall pick in June’s amateur draft, today we’ll take a look at Georgia Tech righty Deck McGuire.
School: Georgia Tech
Weight: 218 lbs.
What He Brings
McGuire’s primary assets are stability, predictability, and relative safety. Pitchers are never safe bets, but McGuire’s about as safe as they do get. McGuire brings a skill set and a track record of success in a difficult college conference that should enable him to move pretty quickly through a minor league system, ending in what will hopefully be a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher on a good team.
His size is a plus. He’s tall and looks powerful and durable. He adds a four-pitch mix that he can mostly throw for strikes: a low-90s fastball, a hard slider, a mid-70s curve ball, and a low-80s changeup. Right now, the change might be his best pitch, though it’s really his ability to mix and match with the four while keeping his pitches around the strike zone that makes him effective. He also has been quite good at keeping hitters off-balance. He does a good job of hiding the ball, making it difficult for hitters to pick up his pitches as they leave his hand.
That’s pretty much what McGuire is: a durable righty who knows what he’s doing on the mound, throws strikes, and pitches from a deep repertoire.
What He Doesn’t Bring
Well, McGuire doesn’t have as much upside as some of the other guys in this draft. His fastball is really just solid-average in terms of velocity, and it doesn’t have great movement. It’s pretty straight, though when he gets on top of the ball well, he can create a little bit of sink with the downward plane he’s able to use. But he’s not a true ground ball pitcher.
And he just doesn’t have a plus pitch in his repertoire. The slider doesn’t have much depth—and touching 86, it looks like more of a cutter—the curve doesn’t have a lot of bite, and the change is the pitch he uses the least. I’m just not convinced he’ll be able to continue to strike out hitters as he advances.
Finally, he has a couple of small mechanical issues. First of all, he rotates his hips very late, allowing his arm to pass before his body turns, robbing him of some velocity. Now, while this isn’t good, it probably is what’s making his pitches difficult to pick up, so it’s not all bad either. Second, he separates his hands very, very low, which is really slowing down his tempo and probably stressing his shoulder a little. Both flaws could contribute to a shoulder injury down the road, but I’m not sure how escalated those chances are.
I find guys like McGuire aren’t terribly popular with fans. Nobody wants to hear their team went after someone with a "low ceiling" or "limited upside" in the draft. When fans follow the draft, they want to walk away feeling like their team selected a player with a chance at developing into a star. But guys with a chance at being above average—or even just average—are worth millions of dollars to their organization, and their presence often prevents the team from making stupid mistakes, like signing mediocre starters to four-year deals.
McGuire is one of those players, a guy who’s unlikely to ever be a great player but pretty likely at becoming a good one. That said, I have a few reservations about his lack of a sinker and his lack of a great breaking pitch. Selecting McGuire wouldn’t be a disaster—the Mets can always use a starter who knows how to find the strike zone with four pitches—but I’m not sure he’s that much safer than a couple guys with more upside.