The Changes Reese McGuire Made to Improve His Hitting

As I reported yesterday, Reese McGuire will be heading to Bradenton to start the 2015 season. I had been wondering whether McGuire would make that jump, and the answer wasn’t clear. His defense is as advertised, ranking as the best in the system behind the plate, and some of the best defense for a catcher in the minors. The problem was that his offense was behind the defense. Last year he only posted a .641 OPS in West Virginia, which raised the biggest questions as to whether his bat was ready to move up.

I have been watching McGuire for the last week, and I’ve noticed something different about him this year. The same day I reported that Austin Meadows changed his hand position to simplify his swing and add more power, I noticed McGuire doing the same thing. He has dropped his hands a bit, eliminating the bat wrap he had last year, and aiming for more solid contact. I confirmed that this was the case in my interviews with McGuire and Pirates’ minor league hitting coordinator Larry Sutton (interviews and video of McGuire’s new swing can be seen in the video below).

For comparison, here is McGuire’s old swing, via a Baseball America video last year, compared to his new swing this year.

Reese McGuire Old

Reese McGuire New

The new swing has him holding his hands lower at the starting point. The overall swing is more compact, with less action when he loads his hands. He also finishes stronger and more balanced. The new swing should make it easier for him to make solid contact, and to get to inside pitches, which will really help him in the upper levels.

McGuire has the defense to one day become a Major League catcher, and his advanced approach at the plate projects well for his potential to eventually hit in the big leagues. In addition to the new approach at the plate, he added 15 pounds of muscle this off-season, which should also help him make solid contact at the plate. The new muscle didn’t take anything away from his abilities behind the plate, which is a good thing.

If McGuire can develop his bat, he could be a starting catcher with All-Star upside. He’s going to be one of the youngest players in Bradenton this year, and that will really give him a challenge, especially with the new approach at the plate going up against better stuff than he has seen before. Elias Diaz currently projects as the catcher of the future in the short-term, but McGuire’s skills are good enough to make him the starting catcher whenever he’s ready.

  • Another thing I noticed about this video comparison is the difference in where he is making contact. I realize it’s only batting practice footage but in the newer video he is letting the ball get closer to the plate before he swings. which will generate more power and enable him to see the ball longer which will help recognize the pitch. What pitches he should and shouldn’t swing at and how to attack the ball. Having his hands lower allows him the time to do that.He looks a lot better. I’m betting his High A numbers will be better than his low A numbers

    • That’s the goal. A shorter swing allows you to see the ball deeper in the zone, and react a little later. That will help him with off-speed stuff, and will help him drive the ball the other way.

  • Excellent article and video comparisons. Really like the take from the instructors themselves. Really insightful .

  • Being a simple fan, I’m obviously not qualified to make a definitive statement on this; but from an organizational standpoint, the Pirates have seemed far more focused on a specific plan of improvement at the plate over the last two years than at any point in the Huntington era. Whether it be approach or mechanics, there appears to be a lot of symmetry between the players they’re acquiring and developing, without necessarily getting robotic.

    The org gets a lot of press about their focus on pitching, but it seems like their ability to grow hitters is catching up awfully fast.

  • I like these comparison of swing videos you post Tim.
    Best Pirate coverage and insight anywhere on Internet or main stream newspapers.
    The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has an article today about Banister in Texas. Even sent reporter to Arizona.
    Without this site….Buccos fans would be clueless about system if had to depend on Post Gazette….

    • Lee Foo Young
      March 8, 2015 4:16 pm

      Mac…OR the Trib.I enjoy Travis S, but Tim is the best,no doubt about it (to quote Lanny)

      • No one comes close to his coverage. I wish there was a site dedicated to the Pens and Steelers like this.

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