Here we go again. Another year goes by and the Rays still lack a clear catcher of the future. How will the Rays address that? Maybe they’ll make a trade- although it’s awfully hard to acquire a talented catching prospect on the market these days. Maybe the Rays will bide time with Jose Molina and Co. as their major league catchers until a player is already in their system, someone like Mark Thomas, Luke Bailey, Justin O’Conner, or Oscar Hernandez, is ready to take over the reigns. However, each of those players carries significant risk and you can never be sure what will happen to them. One thing we can be sure of, though, is that in this coming year’s draft the Rays will strongly consider selecting a promising catcher to add to the players already in their system as they attempt to find that franchise catcher that they has eluded them the entire history of their franchise. Who could that player be? Let’s find out.
Today we’ll begin our look into the catchers in 2013 MLB Draft. Although it’s still a couple of months before the draft and a lot can happen between now and then, we’ll get a feel for the quality of the class of catchers and begin to understand the players that the Rays and every team in baseball will be choosing from when the day of the draft finally arrives. We’ll start with Reese McGuire.
Reese McGuire (Kent High School, WA)
Info: 6’1″, 190, turned 18 in March, committed to the University of San Diego
McGuire’s defense is a thing to behold and his offensive game is not all that far behind. McGuire glides behind the plate with his athletic frame, featuring a lightning-quick release and a strong arm on stolen base attempts and moving easily to block balls in the dirt like few high school catching prospects before him. Receiving is the biggest defensive concern for most catching prospects, but McGuire makes it look easy thanks to his outstanding reflexes, great footwork, and simply how comfortable he is in the crouch. McGuire gets into trouble when he overcomplicates things- he has tried a little too hard to do things like frame pitches at such a young age, and sometimes he focuses so much on releasing the ball quickly on stolen base attempts that he doesn’t get very much on the throws. That’s simply nitpicking, though, as McGuire is an incredible defensive catcher, especially coming out of high school, and with more refinement he has the potential to be a Gold Glover someday.
At the plate, McGuire features an open, stance from the left side and lives up to the billing with great bat speed and good, not great raw power, including some to the opposite field. He uses his quick wrists to get his bat head out in front and take a direct path to the ball, and when his timing is right, he can square up everything. McGuire swings aggressively but has solid pitch recognition and a good knowledge of the strike zone. He gets into trouble when he mistimes his step and when he loses his bat speed trying to sell out for power. He’s also an average overall runner. He projects as a very good all-around hitter who will hit for a good average and get on base, but maybe a player who will top out at 15-20 home runs. McGuire ties his game together with great intangibles, showing outstanding leadership and a determination to maximize his talents and do everything he can to help his team win.
Evaluation: Reese McGuire’s superlative defensive talents and promise at the plate give him a chance to be a true franchise catcher and teams will give him a look among the top 10 to 15 picks of the 2013 draft- although the Rays would love to nab him at 21st overall. His offensive ceiling may not be quite what you would want to get that early in the draft, but players with his defensive talents and all-around game don’t come around too often and he will be extremely hard to pass up.