Jays take polished college arm with first pick
Georgia Tech starter McGuire shows advanced three-pitch mix
TORONTO -- Andrew Tinnish hesitated as he mentally ran through a list of scouts and front office types. The Blue Jays' director of amateur scouting was asked how many times Toronto had scouted Deck McGuire, and his answer did not come fast.
"Let me just do some quick math in my head here," said Tinnish, who then paused. "I would say 12. We've had 12 different looks at this guy."
Toronto did not just scout McGuire a dozen times, though. The club had a dozen different sets of eyes, including general manager Alex Anthopoulos, watch the Georgia Tech junior pitch leading up to Monday's First-Year Player Draft.
That is the new reality of the Blue Jays' beefed-up scouting and player development departments. The pile of reports coming in from so many different staff members helped convince Toronto to select McGuire with the 11th overall pick -- the first Draft pick for both Tinnish and Anthopoulos.
The Blue Jays also boasted a trio of selections in the first compensation round on Monday night. Toronto grabbed a pair of high school right-handers in Aaron Sanchez (34th overall) and Noah Syndergaard (38) and finished its Day 1 haul by adding righty Asher Wojciechowski of The Citadel. The signing deadline for all draftees this year is August 16.
2010 top picks
|1||WAS||Bryce Harper, OF|
|2||PIT||Jameson Taillon, RHP|
|3||BAL||Manny Machado, SS|
|4||KC||Christian Colon, SS|
|5||CLE||Drew Pomeranz, LHP|
|6||ARI||Barret Loux, RHP|
|7||NYM||Matt Harvey, RHP|
|8||HOU||Delino DeShields, 2B|
|9||SD||Karsten Whitson, RHP|
|10||OAK||Michael Choice, OF|
|11||TOR||Deck McGuire, RHP|
|12||CIN||Yasmani Grandal, C|
|13||CWS||Chris Sale, LHP|
|14||MIL||Dylan Covey, RHP|
|15||TEX||Jake Skole, OF|
|16||CHC||Haden Simpson, RHP|
|17||TB||Josh Sale, OF|
|18||LAA||Kaleb Cowart, 3B|
|19||HOU||Mike Foltynewicz, RHP|
|20||BOS||Kolbrin Vitek, 2B|
|21||MIN||Alex Wimmers, RHP|
|22||TEX||Kellin Deglan, C|
|23||FLA||Christian Yelich, OF|
|24||SF||Gary Brown, OF|
|25||STL||Zack Cox, 3B|
|26||COL||Kyle Parker, OF|
|27||PHI||Jesse Biddle, LHP|
|28||LAD||Zach Lee, RHP|
|29||LAA||Cam Bedrosian, RHP|
|30||LAA||Chevy Clarke, OF|
|31||TB||Justin O'Conner, C|
|32||NYY||Cito Culver, SS|
|35||ATL*||Matthew Lipka, SS|
|43||SEA*||Taijuan Walker, RHP|
|44||DET*||Nick Castellanos, 3B|
When Anthopoulos took over as the Blue Jays GM in October, he immediately went to work on increasing the scouting and player development staffs. On the amateur side, Toronto added five regional cross checkers, after having none a year ago, and upped the number of area scouts from 14 to 24.
That brought an added comfort to the Blue Jays' war room.
"The advantage that we had this year was with all the extra bodies and the extra looks," Tinnish said, "just having that extra information is, almost, a little bit more peace of mind when you need to make a decision like this."
When it came to selecting McGuire, Tinnish said the decision was easy.
"Everybody had strong feelings for this player," Tinnish said. "There was a comfort level across the board from our entire group, from the front office, to our cross checkers -- national and regional -- to our area scout. Just all the way through."
In this case, the area scout who kept tabs on McGuire this season was Eric McQueen, who is also a product of Georgia Tech. Shortly after the Blue Jays used the 11th pick to add McGuire, Tinnish said McQueen was en route to Georgia Tech's Atlanta Regional title game against Alabama to congratulate the pitcher.
McGuire pitched most recently on Saturday, fashioning eight innings in a 5-2 win over Alabama. Through 16 starts this season for the Yellow Jackets, the 20-year-old right-hander -- listed as 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds -- had gone 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA. Over 112 2/3 innings, McGuire had amassed 118 strikeouts, issued 33 walks and limited hitters to a .226 average.
Tinnish said the one thing that jumped out of all the reports on McGuire was his consistency.
"We've probably seen at least a dozen starts -- certainly double digits," Tinnish said. "The one thing that was glaring for me, looking at our reports, was it was consistent across the board. We have very consistent grades on his fastball velocity, on his fastball command and his movement, and the quality of his slider."
Tinnish said McGuire is similar to Blue Jays' pitching prospect Chad Jenkins, who was selected with the club's first overall pick last June. Beyond Minor League pitching standouts such as Kyle Drabek and Zach Stewart, among others, McGuire and Jenkins provide Toronto with a pair of potentially durable arms.
"We see them as middle rotation starters down the road, both of them," Tinnish said. "It's exciting to have two potential impact-type horses, so to speak, coming up through our system."
McGuire may represent the first player drafted by Anthopoulos and Tinnish, but the pitcher's selection did continue a recent trend for the Jays. Toronto has picked a college arm in each of the past five times it has opted for a pitcher with its first overall pick. The others include Jenkins (2009), Ricky Romero (2005), David Purcey (2004) and Billy Koch (1996).
Beyond just the first overall picks, the Blue Jays have tended to lean toward college pitchers over high school arms in the early rounds. Those picks can often be viewed as safe selections -- players who can rise through the Minor Leagues fast, but do not project to have high upside down the road.
Tinnish believes McGuire has plenty of potential to grow into a solid Major Leaguer.
"I definitely believe that Deck has upside," Tinnish said. "Just because a guy is in college and  years old, doesn't mean that he's a finished product. Deck has upside. I think Deck's going to get stronger and Deck's going to get better."
McGuire, who was the 2007 Virginia Player of the Year for Deep Run High School, took home the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year honor in 2009 as a sophomore, and has gone 28-7 in his career with Georgia Tech. His fastball has been clocked between 91-93 mph. He also throws a changeup and a strong slider.
The Blue Jays did not select McGuire on a whim.
Tinnish said Toronto has been keeping an eye on McGuire since he was a sophomore at Georgia Tech, and the fact that the pitcher was not drafted out of high school never deterred the Jays. Toronto did its homework, utilizing its increased man power to more accurately determine McGuire's value.
When McGuire was available at pick No. 11, it was a comfortable decision.
"We had a pretty good feeling that Deck was going to get to us," Tinnish said. "Obviously, we're pretty excited about it."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.