Pittsburgh Pirates: MLB Pipeline on Former Pirate Reese McGuire


Editorial: Over the summer, the Pittsburgh Pirates made one of their most controversial trades in recent history.  At the time, many questioned why the deal was made, and even today, it is still talked about.

As the 2016 trade deadline approached, many Pittsburgh Pirates fans were hoping to see the team part with meaningful prospects to acquire an impact player.  Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates went into a buy and sell mode.  The most controversial decision being when the Pirates dealt Francisco Liriano to the Toronto Blue Jays.  Included in the deal was former first round pick Reese McGuire, and at the time a top ten organizational prospect Harold Ramirez.  In return, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Drew Hutchison, who many fans had never heard of.

The controversy was mainly around how the Pirates traded away two top ten prospects to help dump Liriano’s salary.  Most fans found this appalling and cheap by the Bucs. However, there was a small minority who felt that the Pittsburgh Pirates did the right thing by getting rid of one of the worst starters in the National League.  Also, this small minority felt the prospects given up were not as big of a deal as many were suggesting.

The reason this topic is being brought back up, is because Reese McGuire was rated as the number six overall catching prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. McGuire found himself drop two spots from last year’s list, where he was ranked number four overall.  When fans see McGuire rated as number six overall, they automatically assume that this is a high and valuable rating.  The majority of the fan base thinks to themselves, “We traded the number six overall catching prospect in baseball to dump a salary!”.  In a way, they have a point.  Many fans would like to the see the Bucs deal a highly rated prospect for a bonafide MLB player.

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However, when valuing prospects, one cannot just look at the assigned ranked.  Catcher is the thinnest prospect position in all of Major League Baseball.  It is rare to see catching prospects come up and make a big impact on both sides of the ball, yet teams consistently see other top position players do so.   In general, there are not many catchers who project well in the MLB, which in a way makes them valuable, but in another way makes them less valuable because they normally do not develop into complete players.  MLB Pipeline feels that McGuire is a similar case.  Here is what they had to say on McGuire’s future as a MLB player:

"McGuire’s defense has long been his calling card, and there’s little doubt that it will get him to the big leagues. An excellent blocker and receiver who receives high praise both for his ability to handle a staff, McGuire also is adept at controlling the running game with his plus arm and efficient pop technique. At the plate, McGuire continues to show natural hitting ability with an advanced feel for the zone, though his power has been virtually non-existent as a professional.McGuire’s offensive profile may leave much to be desired, but the glove is good enough for him to carve out a role as defensive-minded backup in the big leagues."

Next: An Under the Radar Catching Prospect

Essentially MLB Pipeline believes Reese Mcguire has the tools to be a big-league catcher.  This has been the report on him since being drafted.  McGuire is very gifted defensively, but has struggled on the offensive side. Although he has a good approach, he has not developed any power.  When they speak about the power, they do not mean homerun power either, but rather exit velocity.  Yes, he still has time to mature and develop power.  Still, scouts feel he has not progressed enough offensively at this point to be optimistic about his offensive abilities.

Essentially, one cannot just go off the rankings on MLB Pipeline.  He is ranked at number six because he is still young, somewhat projectable, and has solid defense.  He is likely to reach the majors purely because of his defense. This cannot be said for more than a lot of catching prospect, which is why McGuire is still ranked highly.  However, he is no longer close to being a top 100 prospect, and the Pittsburgh Pirates did not give up an “elite” catching prospect.  At least, that is what MLB Pipeline thinks.