Reese McGuire Rumors
The 2013 amateur draft is now fully in the rearview mirror and a new wave of talent has filtered into the professional ranks. Some of the '13 draftees have been riding the buses for more than a month now, while others have only recently pulled on their spikes. Below is a look at first round picks who are off to impressive starts with their new organizations. Standard warnings about reading too much into small sample sizes apply.
Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (1st overall): The top selection in the 2013 draft has made four starts in the minors and has already earned a promotion, moving from the New York Penn League to the Midwest League. Despite a bit of a layoff between the college season and his first pro appearance, the Stanford alum has displayed good control with just one walk in 13 innings while striking out 13 batters. Curt Rallo, writing for MiLB.com, recently caught up with Appel and spoke to him about the adjustments he's making as a professional baseball player.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, Twins (4th): The highest drafted prep product, 18-year-old Kohl has acclimatized well to his new life as a pro ball player. Stewart, a Texas native, features a 1.80 ERA with nine strikeouts in 10 innings of work over four appearances (two starts).
Clint Frazier, OF, Indians (5th): The 18-year-old Frazier is stinging the ball through his first 18 pro games. He's hitting more than .300 with nine extra base hits. On the down side, he's whiffed 24 times, including nine strikeouts in his last four games. Clearly, he has some further adjustments to make if he hopes to see continued success on the diamond.
Hunter Dozier, SS, Royals (8th): The Royals' first pick received a lot of attention for being an overdraft so the club could later afford pitcher Sean Manaea, who slipped out of first round consideration due to injury concerns. Dozier, though, is making the decision to pick him eighth overall look inspired. He has an .856 OPS and 20 of his 37 hits have gone for extra bases during his time in the Pioneer League. Dozier has also walked more than he's struck out (19-16). His first professional baseball club, the Idaho Falls Chukars, recently published an audio Q&A with the first rounder.
D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (12th): Peterson was promoted from the Northwest League to the Midwest League on Tuesday and he will leave behind some impressive numbers. The third baseman popped six home runs and posted a .915 OPS in 29 games. He also showed solid contact skills with a strikeout rate of just under 15%, which is impressive given his power output.
Reese McGuire, C, Pirates (14th): The Pirates had two first round selections in 2013 and McGuire has gotten off to a quicker start than his new teammate Austin Meadows. The young catcher is hitting more than .400 with a 1.012 OPS through his first 15 games. He's also impressing behind the plate by catching 50% of base runners attempting to steal. John Lembo of the Bradenton Herald spoke to both McGuire and Meadows about their thoughts of growing up in the Pirates organization.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Phillies (16th): Philadelphia has been snakebitten over the past few years when it comes to their first round draft picks, and the organization is clearly hoping for bigger and better things from Crawford. He's off to a good start in Rookie ball where he's compiled 25 hits and seven walks in 18 games, good for a .427 on-base percentage. By getting on base at such a good clip, it should allow him to pile up some steals thanks to his above-average speed.
Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (18th): Anderson is the third shortstop on this list who's off to a quick start to his career. Playing in low-A ball, he's getting on base at a solid clip (.371 OBP) while nabbing 12 bases in 15 attempts through the first 32 games of his pro career. One red flag, though, is his strikeout rate of 25%, especially given that power is not a big part of his game right now; an improvement in his contact rate would likely help him improve his on-base percentage even further. Anderson could move quickly through the Sox system, which could help to explain why the club may be willing to part with incumbent shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Michael Teague of MiLB.com spoke to the young prospect shortly after he was named the top junior college athlete in the country for 2013.
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Tigers (20th): Crawford has opened his pro career in the New York Penn League and he's expected to be one of the first college-groomed draft picks to reach the Major League level. Through six appearances, he's looking good with a 2.03 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings of work. He was downright unhittable in three of those appearances (totaling six innings). Lynn Henning of the Detroit News spoke to Crawford's manager in Connecticut about the recent draft pick's positive start to his career.
Billy McKinney, OF, Athletics (24th): After batting just .242 with a .558 OPS in June, McKinney has heated up in July and currently has a .367 average and .861 OPS. The left-handed-hitting Texas native has improved his game in part by making more contact and lowering his strikeout rate. He's also holding his own against southpaws, which is impressive to see from such a young hitter.
TUESDAY: McGuire received $2.369MM from the Pirates, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (on Twitter), so the Pirates saved about $200K.
MONDAY: The Pirates have agreed to a deal with first round draft pick Reese McGuire, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. According to Mark Zender, McGuire's high school coach, McGuire is on his way to Pittsburgh in order to take his physical and will officially sign tomorrow. The contract is believed to be worth close to the assigned slot value (via Baseball America) for the 14th overall pick, which is just under $2.57MM. McGuire is advised by Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.
McGuire, a left-handed hitting catcher, was rated as the draft's 10th-best prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America, and was rated 19th by ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). The Kentwood High School product drew praise for his throwing arm, defensive skills and overall game-calling abilities behind the plate. While his hitting is still somewhat unpolished, BA notes that "even if he doesn't reach his offensive ceiling, McGuire's defense will allow him to be a big league backup, but if he hits he has all-star potential."
Once McGuire's deal is finalized, he will be the 16th of 33 first rounders to sign. One of the unsigned is Austin Meadows, the Pirates' other first round selection -- the Bucs received the ninth overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Mark Appel following the 2012 draft.
Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN has a tremendous amount of information on the upcoming MLB draft in the most recent edition of his weekly "Scoops" column. Here are some highlights from his highly informative piece (though there is much more to see in the full column)...
- Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff spoke with Wolfson at length Wednesday afternoon and said that the team's draft board for the No. 4 overall pick is down to four players: "We have enough guys we have no problem taking," Radcliff said. "Dollars, risk, creativity, we can go many ways."
- Wolfson adds that at least one of the potential players would be someone the Twins could sign well below slot value, in order to spend more heavily on their second- and third-round picks. He adds that that player is likely high school catcher Reese McGuire, as has been rumored occasionally over the past few weeks. Asked about McGuire, Radcliff side-stepped the question a bit: "Well, we want a catcher every draft," he said. "Looking for a star catcher is the hardest thing to find."
- The Twins have had a scout in attendance to see "every pitch" from Kohl Stewart over the past couple of years. Radcliff and scouting director Deron Johnson have seen him multiple times.
- The Twins have a great relationship with Matt Sosnick and Adam Karon, who are advising McGuire and Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley. They're believed to be more interested in McGuire than Shipley. Sosnick, the agent for current Twins Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, also advises high school arms Matt Krook and Andrew Church, plus San Francisco right-hander Alex Balog and Cal infielder Andrew Knapp. Each of those prospects ranks in the Top 100, per Baseball America.
- Johnson has seen Arkansas righty Ryne Stanek numerous times, and the Twins have done more work on him than any team in this year's top 10.
- High school lefty Hunter Green, who ranks as the draft's No. 31 prospect (per BA), is among the prospects who will attend a workout for the Twins on Monday. High school outfielder Austin Meadows did not attend a recent workout the team held for Georgia-area prospects.
- The Twins aren't likely to pursue Minnesota high school outfielder Ryan Boldt with their second pick (No. 43). They will look at another hometown product in Gophers lefty Tom Windle at that spot, however. Boldt was considered a first-round talent before a meniscus tear ended his season. He hopes to be ready to play by August.
- The Twins have the fourth-largest pool to sign international prospects this year, and Radcliff says they will be "major players" in this year's market. Wolfson adds that the Twins very much like Dominican outfielder Lewin Diaz.
- The team didn't have scouts in attendance to watch Japanese hurlers Shohei Otani and Masahiro Tanaka in Japan this past week.
Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray's strong performance in the Big 12 conference tournament increased the likelihood that the Astros will pick him No. 1 overall, ESPN.com's Christopher Crawford writes (Insider-only). Crawford also quotes a scout who says that Indiana State's Sean Manaea -- thought to be a top pick before the season -- is "not a first-round prospect to me," and suggests Manaea may be best served by not signing and returning to school. Manaea was pulled from a recent start with shoulder tightness. Crawford's piece also contains details about Mark Appel and many of this draft class' top hitters. Here are more notes on the draft.
- Indiana high-schooler Trey Ball tops the list of two-way players available in this year's draft, Baseball America's Jim Callis says. Teams now prefer Ball as a pitcher, and it looks likely he'll be selected in the first 10 picks or so. Another two-way player is Cal State-Fullerton's Michael Lorenzen, who will be drafted as a center fielder, Callis says.
- If the Twins wish to avoid Scott Boras with the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft, their best bets are high school pitcher Kohl Stewart or high school catcher Reese McGuire, ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson tweets. Stewart is being advised by Derek Braunecker and McGuire by Matt Sosnick, Wolfson says.
Kevin Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, made his Major League debut for the Orioles last night. In a poll on Wednesday, roughly 39 percent of MLBTR readers agreed that Michael Wacha of the Cardinals would be the next first-round pick from last year's draft to make the leap to the big leagues. There are less than two weeks until the 2013 draft, and we'll keep track of today's draft-related news here...
- The first mock draft from Jim Callis of Baseball America had the Astros taking Mark Appel No. 1 overall, but his newest version has the Astros taking Jonathan Gray. That leaves Appel to go to the Cubs at No. 2, but it's not clear right now who the Cubs would take between the two pitchers if Houston winds up taking a hitter instead.
- Callis views Sean Manaea as a complete wild card in this year's draft (Twitter link). He likens the Indiana State lefty to Lucas Giolito, who the Nationals drafted 16th overall last year. Like Giolito, Manaea was once considered a possible No. 1 overall selection, but injuries have caused his stock to fall and it's highly difficult to predict where he'll land.
- Prep catcher Reese McGuire will have to make a tough choice between attending college and going pro, but he's eager for the draft nonetheless, writes MLB.com's Doug Miller. While McGuire has a great opportunity to play ball at the University of San Diego, he might not be able to resist the pull of the majors if goes as high as he is projected to. MLB.com currently has the catcher going No. 11 to the Mets.
- McGuire isn't the only high school catcher who is drawing interest from clubs at the top of the draft, writes Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Behind him are Jon Denney from Oklahoma and South Carolina's Nick Ciuffo.