DUNEDIN, FL — There is nothing ordinary about Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Deck McGuire.
Despite not getting a nibble from scouts during his high-school career, the 6’6 right-hander was drafted out of college in the first round (11th overall) of the 2010 June Amateur Draft.
For McGuire, the years he spent at the Georgia Institute of Technology were a blessing in disguise.
“My three years in college kind of allowed me to grow up a little bit”, said McGuire, now 23. “I think it benefited me being away from home and not being thrown into the fire that is pro ball, with all the travel and stuff.
“I had the consistency of the same guys around me for three years and so I think it was a nice way to get my feet wet.”
McGuire burst onto the scene in his first minor-league season, eventually reaching Double-A. He started four games, going 2-1. However, the pressure that comes with being a highly touted prospect appeared to take its toll in 2012, as he turned in a disappointing campaign, finishing 5-15 with a 5.88 ERA.
“I think I just put too much pressure on myself”, said McGuire, standing outside the Jays minor league complex. “Day in and day out it just kind of turned into a snowball effect. You have one bad game and all of a sudden you think I’ve got to be better next start. Well maybe that start’s not good and it just kind of spiraled downhill from there.”
While many players would feel increased pressure to perform following a down year, McGuire’s calm demeanour and maturity beyond his years shine through. The native of Richmond, Va., has tried to stay within himself by focusing only on what he can control.
“Sometimes you’re ready for the next level but the next level’s not ready for you, and vice versa”, said McGuire. “My job is just to go have fun, go have a good year, and enjoy it. Growing from last year was huge and my focus now is to just grow from day to day.”
North of the border the excitement of the Jays off-season that saw them add the likes of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle, seems to have carried over to the rest of the organization. Just don’t expect McGuire take a back seat.
“To me it doesn’t really change much”, says McGuire. “My job is to go out every fifth day, regardless of what level I’m at, and keep trying to put the team in a position to win games.”
After being used as a starter throughout his baseball career, McGuire worked primarily out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League last year. Although the 14th-ranked prospect in the Jays’ system is still projected a major-league starter, the time he spent coming out of the bullpen was invaluable.
“I’ve got a fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up, but last year I was pretty much a three-pitch guy.” said McGuire.
“The curveball just wasn’t where it needed to be, to even really be classified as a fourth pitch. It’s never a bad thing to be able to multi-task as a pitcher and help out whenever you can in whatever role they want from you.”