Reese McGuire is a left-handed hitting high school catcher that is ready for the majors defensively, but will need several years to develop similar offensive skills. He has been projected to go anywhere in the draft from among the top five to 20th overall. The Minnesota Twins have been linked to him by Jim Callis of Baseball America and are definitely interested.
Besides McGuire’s skill set, he is intriguing for another reason: by signing him at a below-slot level value, the Twins could bank that leftover money for more aggressive (and expensive) draft choices later in the draft.
Who Could He Be?
His floor would be Drew Butera – a poor-hitting but defensively superior backup catcher. McGuire’s “pop” time – the amount of time it takes for him to receive a throw and get it to second base – is already at a major league level.
Offensively, he is not nearly as developed but he projects to have some left-handed power (10-15 HR) and in this video Keith Law thinks he can hit .270 or .280 in the majors. Those stats line him up to be something like AJ Pierzynski only with Yadier Molina’s glove. That's a very valuable player.
How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?
The last first round catcher the Twins drafted moved up in two-and-a-half years – but that was Joe Mauer. Four years is a much more realistic timetable, so he would debut in 2017, when Mauer is 34 years old, and a year before Mauer’s contract expires.
If the Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up Because...
If the Twins draft McGuire they are likely going to be widely criticized, some of which will be fair and some not. The widely held sense is that the Twins need to add pitching, that they are too enamored with defensive catchers and that they are unwilling to spend money. Drafting McGuire would reinforce these perceptions.
But beyond the public relations problem this would cause, there are some real concerns. They will have passed on three college-age arms – Braden Shipley, Ryne Stanek and Sean Manaea - each of which could help alleviate a desperate need in the organization. They would also then have passed on a high school pitcher with as much upside as any arm in the draft – Kohl Stewart – and several other high-upside talents.
Finally, high school catchers are inherently very risky draft picks. In last night’s Gleeman And The Geek podcast, Jeremy Nygaard listed the high school catchers drafted in the first round since Mauer in 2001. The only one who has made any kind of mark is Neil Walker – and he had to move from catcher.
If the Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It Because...
The Twins are in the unpleasant position of drafting fourth in what is widely considered to be a three-player draft. In any other sport, the wise strategy would be to move down in the draft, but MLB draft picks can’t be traded. However, if they sign McGuire for #7 money instead of someone else for #4 money, they can use the money they saved for “overdrafting” in later rounds, essentially adding two first round picks.
For instance, if the Twins draft McGuire and sign him for #7 money, they would have an extra $1.3M to add to their budget for their 2nd round (43rd overall) pick, which is slotted at $1.3M. So they would have $2.6M to offer to the player they chose, who will be the 34th player chosen, which is as much as the 14th overall pick.
That’s important in the MLB draft, because players drafted in high school or as juniors in college don’t need to sign. For instance, Manaea’s stock has been dropping as he has dealt with injuries. Once he falls into the second round, he’s unlikely to sign with whoever drafts him and teams know this, so he just keeps dropping. But the Twins could grab him there, offer him close to the money he originally thought he might get and end up with (essentially) two first round picks. Or, if the Twins feel like the value in this draft is in later rounds, they could use similar tactics in rounds three through ten.
That’s the best case scenario, but the Twins would be taking a big risk that a player like Manaea falls to them and is willing to sign. This also requires a lot of preparation – you don’t want to draft a player if you’re not SURE he'll sign.
MLB Draft Player Profiles:
- Monday, May 20-- Sean Manaea, SP
- Tuesday, May 21-- Austin Meadows, OF
- Wednesday, May 22-- Trey Ball, OF
- Thursday, May 23-- Ryan Stanek, RHP
- Friday, May 24—Clint Frazier, OF
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