The Pirates Prospects 2015 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2015 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Luis Heredia, RHP
19. JaCoby Jones, SS
18. Willy Garcia, OF
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
16. Gage Hinsz, RHP
15. Trey Supak, RHP
14. Cody Dickson, LHP
13. John Holdzkom, RHP
12. Adrian Sampson, RHP
11. Harold Ramirez, OF
10. Elias Diaz, C
9. Cole Tucker, SS
8. Mitch Keller, RHP
7. Alen Hanson, 2B
6. Nick Kingham, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 5 prospect, Reese McGuire.

5. Reese McGuire, C

Reese McGuire is the starting catcher of the future for the Pirates.
Reese McGuire is the starting catcher of the future for the Pirates.

The Pirates loved Reese McGuire prior to the 2013 draft. They had been linked to him constantly leading up to the draft, with a near certainty that he would be there with the ninth overall pick. What they didn’t expect was that Austin Meadows would also be there ninth overall. The Pirates went with Meadows, and the decision paid off, as McGuire fell to them with the 14th overall pick.

McGuire is regarded as one of the best defensive catching prospects in the minors, and ranks as the best in the Pirates’ system. That defense is eventually going to get him to the majors, and his bat will determine what role he eventually plays.

The defense is highlighted by great receiving skills, blocking skills, and a plus arm. He also has good, quick footwork with no wasted movements when transitioning from catching the ball to throwing out a runner. The plus arm and the footwork has led to some outstanding results in the lower levels, with a 41% caught stealing rate in 2013, and a 39% caught stealing rate in 2014. That’s even more impressive when you consider that Pirates pitching prospects in the lower levels aren’t focused on limiting the running game, instead focusing on making their pitches.

McGuire shows potential on offense. Unlike the defense, the offensive potential hasn’t shown up in the stats. He doesn’t look over-matched at the plate, with a very low strikeout rate and a decent walk rate. McGuire needs to increase that walk total, and hit for more power going forward. He has good contact skills, and makes solid contact while using the middle of the field and driving the ball to the gaps.

Catchers tend to take some time for the bat to develop, as the Pirates saw with Elias Diaz. The emergence of Diaz, if he can take over as a starter in the majors, could allow the Pirates to take their time with McGuire. His offensive numbers weren’t great in 2014, but he could get a push to Bradenton in 2015, where he would probably spend the entire season. A conservative one level per year approach puts McGuire in the majors around 2017-18. His defense will definitely get him there, and if the offensive tools start to show up on the stat pages, he will end up an All-Star two-way catcher.

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42 COMMENTS

      • I hear where you are coming from and my comment was by no means knock on scouting. Only a commentary on how far the Pirate’s farm has come and Heredia’s own journey.

        • I have a hard time understanding how he was listed as being in great shape last year. Compared to 2013 he may have been in better shape by losing some weight, but the guy and ‘in shape’ should never have been used in the same sentence. He had an opportunity of a lifetime to turn his teenage growing weight in to a solid frame quickly, and he let it go. He can still make the changes necessary, but you can tell he doesn’t spend much time working out.

  1. Throw out 41% of runners? Wow. And think how many did not even try to run on him!?!?

    One question: Height? Weight?

    • Baseball Reference lists him at 6’0″ and 181 pounds. He’s young though, so I’m sure he’ll get up to 195-210 eventually (depending on how he adds muscle without losing agility/mobility behind the plate).

    • We only include the write-ups in the countdown. The Prospect Guide has the full profiles, including stats, prospect grades, risk evaluation, and the most recent height and weight.

      • Tim, Thank you for reminding me. Every evening I go home and say, “ok, i’m ordering the prospect guide tonight so I don’t ask any more stupid questions.” And then I forget to buy the prospect guide.

  2. I hope his hitting comes around and the defense stays solid. We’ve already had one disappointing Catching prospect. We don’t need another.

    I’d love to see Cervelli stay healthy and be a top catcher, plus Reese & Diaz be the real things, too. (I can dream).

    • I’m really confused about tonymontana. . I thought he was a glove first guy who couldn’t hit.. now he can hit, he loses the glove? So confused.

      • The early reports on his defense were definitely very overrated. He has never blocked pitches or thrown anywhere close to what he was supposed to do. …and the hitting isn’t really that great either.

          • Well, he got worse with the throwing since they got him. Sanchez has really taught me how difficult how scouting is…because everything I read everywhere had him as a very good defensive C. He has Rod Barrajas numbers throwing out runners the last few years.

            • Was he fairly good at calling a game and working with pitchers? I read comments from pitchers that he was, but it’s not like they’d say otherwise

        • The early reports on his defense were definitely very overrated.

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          Oh, I dunno… Everything I read about his defensive game is that, aside from throwing, he’s pretty good. Good at blocking, framing, calling, footwork, and whatever the heck else goes into catcher’s defense that isn’t throwing out SB attempts. And that’s pretty much the same things I recall hearing around the time he was drafted, too.

          So I wouldn’t say his defense was overrated. Seems more like to me that his defense in college was accurately-rated and that he developed some kind of issue with throwing later that was never there before. It happens sometimes.

          • I have only seen him a couple games at Altoona, but I probably saw every game he caught as a Pirate. The guy has trouble closing his glove on pitches. I couldn’t understand the good reviews on defense that he kept receiving while he was in the minors because it always seemed as though he had 3-5 pitches per game that bounced off his pads or his glove and flew about 25 feet from the plate.

            • I couldn’t understand the good reviews on defense that he kept receiving while he was in the minors because it always seemed as though he had 3-5 pitches per game that bounced off his pads or his glove and flew about 25 feet from the plate.

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              I would guess that’s probably a combination of 2 things:

              (1) Small sample size. You say you only saw him catch a couple games in Altoona and the games he caught as a Pirate. That’s not a lot compared to the hundreds of games he caught in the minors.

              (2) Perception bias. Those negatives stuck out to you, so it’s what you remember. Those things would probably also stick out to a professional scout, but due to their training and experience they look at it differently. For example: You see a ball that bounced off his pads and figure it’s a defensive lapse; a scout might see that same thing happen and be amazed that he was able to get any part of his body to the ball at all– maybe with a lesser defensive catcher, that ball is all the way to the backstop instead of at least a chance to keep it in front of him.

              • Fair enough, I couldn’t dispute that although I feel I was looking at his defense with an open mind. Maybe it was to his detriment that he would sometimes catch after I was being spoiled by watching Martin. I was hoping for him to succeed.

      • Sanchez doesn’t rate poorly in the areas of pitching blocking, receiving, framing, but his throwing issues are a non-starter. And you are correct, Sanchez had a great 300 at bats in AAA in 2013, and wasn’t terrible in MLB at bats, but I never got this idea that he could be the small half of a first base platoon.

      • I think in his first year, the defense of Sanchez looked promising, but it tailed off after that first year and was average at best and below average at worst. I think Sanchez has okay blocking skills but he is just terrible at throwing runners out at second.

  3. I’m not sure I would agree with you on that, as top pitching and power prospects are the two most important commodities in MLB at the present time, but he would be very important.

    • Especially considering their depth in the minors at catcher and Diaz at the top. Glasnow becoming an ace, Josh Bell hitting enough to be a 1B, Hanson staying in the INF, Taillon reaching the next level, and Meadows becoming the next stud OF all pretty important.

      • So you mention the depth at catcher as reason he’s not.. then proceed to name pitchers and outfielders as more important?

    • I personally believe two way catchers are the rarest commodity in baseball, and are capable of making a pitching staff.. cards & giants have dominated the NL.. I find it no coincidence they have the two best catchers in the game

      • I think our statiscally inclined friends would say you are confusing correlation and causation. The next best 2 way catchers are probably Lucroy and Wieters. Lucroy is awesome while the Brewers aren’t and the only time the Os have been good in Wieters career was when he missed the season last year. Carlos ruiz is another good 2 way guy while the phillies absolutely suck.

        I think maybe the cards and giants have a lot more going for them than just very good catching.

        • Lol. I also didn’t say that all you need is a two way catcher.. I do think however that it’s the reason the nats & dodgers get all the hype and stl & sanfran get all the bling

          • St Louis and San Fran get the bling because they have the pitching. Now how much their catchers contribute to that pitching being great is up for debate.

              • Of course not. Without looking at #s and who plays catcher for Nationals and Dodgers I will will even say that St Louis and SF have superior catchers to them. But I don’t think catchers are the reason they have fared better in the play-offs. It is a part of it, but not THE reason.

    • If he develops into a legit middle of the order bat I would agree. Right now it does not appear that his bat will be strong enough to hit int he middle of the line up.

      • If I had all the dragonballs and got to wish one prospect to reach his potential, reese would be my guy.. not cause I’m just a huge fan, otherwise tucker would be my guy

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