Sometimes life forces you down an unexpected path—one that is longer and more undulating than you’d like—and for many people that path ends up veering off to an unintended destination but for the lucky and tenacious ones, sometimes the path eventually ends up taking you where you had wanted to go when you first took the journey.
#BlueJays bring up Deck McGuire, send down Lourdes Gurriel Jr.— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) May 13, 2018
“Blue Jays select Deck McGuire” reads the title of this blog post, dated May 13, 2018. This post really should’ve been dated in 2013 or 2014, no? McGuire was a first round draft pick from the Georgia Tech back in 2010 in Alex Anthopoulos’s first draft as a general manager. He was pick #11, a couple of slots above Chris Sale. Even on draft day, we knew that McGuire was not a high-ceiling prospect like Sale, but the thought was that he had a high floor and was a safe college arm who was guaranteed to sign. That strategy kind of made sense, as the Blue Jays had three other first round (supplemental) picks that year where Anthopoulos was able to select higher-ceiling-higher-risk pitchers (Aaron Sanchez at #34, Noah Syndergaard at #38, and Asher Wojciechowski at #41).
John Sickels, our colleague from Minor League Ball, wrote this about McGuire:
Polished pitcher with above average stuff, one of the safest selections in the draft, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Unfortunately McGuire’s floor ended up falling from under him as he ascended the Blue Jays’ minor league system. He didn’t pitch in his draft year, but made his professional debut in 2011 with Dunedin, moving up to New Hampshire in the last part of the season. His struggles started in 2012 in New Hampshire where he gave up 22 home runs in 28 starts. He was added to the 40-man roster to be protected from the Rule 5 draft before the 2014 season but he continued to give up home runs at a high rate in Buffalo and was designated for assignment in late July and swapped to the Athletics for cash.
Oakland released him after spring training 2015 and then he bounced to the Dodgers and Cardinals before agreeing to a minor league contract with the Reds just before spring training last year. He was assigned to double-A and pitched in Pensacola for the whole year as, frankly, a veteran org guy to eat innings every five days and to hopefully give some guidance to the up-and-coming young prospects. As a reward for going through the grind, he was given a September callup finally made it to The Show.
McGuire re-signed with the Jays as a minor league free agent this offseason and has been starting with the Bisons, recording a 2.70 ERA over five starts averaging six innings each, striking out 27 and walking 12, giving up three home runs. Throughout the spring and his month-and-a-half with Buffalo he was telling reporters that he still had something to prove to the Blue Jays organization and was determined to, one day, finally pitch for Toronto.
It looks like that time is here now. The path that took him through being designated for assignment and being released by three separate organizations, the one that took him through a full season at double-A as a 28-year-old, has finally led him back to Toronto, the place where he had wanted to end up all along. He had many chances to hang up his spikes and to leave baseball, but he was determined to get here.
And if that undulating path takes McGuire back down to the minors, the Blue Jays won't necessarily lose him as he has two remaining options.
The path for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who was sent to Buffalo (rather than New Hampshire), is taking him for a detour to triple-A after it gave him a shortcut up to the big leagues earlier this year.
The Blue Jays will have to remove a player from the 40-man roster to make room for Deck McGuire, but that move has not been announced yet.
Carlos Ramirez gets the DFA treatment. Ramirez looked so good last year, not so much this year. He has 8 walks in 8.1 innings in Buffalo and had 5 walks in 2.1 innings up with the Jays.