The Jays first selection in the 2010 draft was regarded as a safe and steady, yet limited ceiling selection and it seemed as though they would have a mid-rotation starter reasonably soon.
That’s hardly been the case.
Deck McGuire, the 11th overall selection from Georgia Tech, has had some struggles in the minors and his stock has considerably dropped. He was ranked as the Jays third best prospect by Baseball America following the 2010 season, and 95th best prospect in all of the minor leagues.
He fell to eighth, and 20th in 2011 and 2012 and he’s completely off the list since then. He’s clearly taken a lot more time in the minor leagues than scouts and management expected, but I’m not convinced that he doesn’t have the same ability and ceiling now that he originally had when he was drafted.
He’s often forgotten about when it comes to Blue Jays prospects, but he may very well make an impact, and surprise some skeptics in 2014.
He had a good start to his minor league career in 2011 with Dunedin and New Hampshire, putting up a 3.02 ERA in 125.1 IP with strong strikeout and walk totals. He took a big step back in a rough 2012, there’s no questioning that, but his 2013 was much improved and provided some promise.
His numbers from his 2013 season are rough at first glance, but there might be some factors in play that aren’t being explored, and this can attribute to the worries surrounding his numbers.
His 9-10 record and 4.86 ERA leaves a lot to be desired, but the 3.58 FIP shows that he may have been a recipient of some bad luck or undesired circumstance. His 8.18 K/9 is promising, his 3.38 BB/9 isn’t great, but it’s acceptable, and his 0.69 HR/9 is excellent and suggests he did a much better job of keeping the ball down and on the corners in 2013.
In 2013 he posted a 6.09 ERA in 68 innings at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, the Fisher Cats home park, and a 3.93 ERA in 89.1 innings on the road. It’s an interesting split and needs some further evaluation.
Ashley Marshall from milb.com compiled date from all AA stadiums since 2008 and found that Northeast Delta Dental Stadium was not only one of the most hitter friendly parks in the stingy Eastern League, but also had the third highest runs per game out of all minor league parks.
This doesn’t suggest that all of his home struggles materialized because of park effects, but it’s certainly a significant factor that doesn’t bode well for him. If he played in a neutral home park, his overall numbers could be significantly different.
August was by far Deck’s best month of the season, going 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA through 39.2 IP, including a complete game victory in New Britain on the 14th.
If he can continue the success that he found in his last six starts into spring training, and pitch well in the minors early on, he could put himself in a decent position to get called up, and anything is possible after that.
Deck’s career path is awfully similar to Ricky Romero’s career when he was in the minor leagues. Both of them were drafted early in the first round right before perennial all-stars, Chris Sale in 2010 and Troy Tulowitzki in 2005, who happen to be two of my favourite players… yikes.
Romero, just like McGuire, was ranked relatively high in prospect rankings, but saw his stock drop considerably. Baseball America ranked Romero second on the Jays list following the 2005 season, and 87th in the MLB, but eventually fell to eighth on the Jays list after the 2008 season.
He had a good start to his minor league career, but struggled mightily when he reached AA. He saw his walk rate climb and strikeout rate dive in his 22 and 23-year-old seasons in New Hampshire, just like McGuire in 2012.
Romero posted a 5.2 BB/9 and 8.2 K/9 in 2007 and 4.1 BB/9 and 5.8 BB/9 in 2008 and there were serious concerns about his future. Command and lack of strikeout stuff contributed to this concern, and the same thing could be said for McGuire.
But despite the concerns he bounced back and became an important part of the Jays rotation in 2009, became staff ace in 2010 and an all-star in 2011.
Of course, his career has been put through a blender and no one knows what’s in Ricky’s future, but the early portion of his career is an example of why McGuire shouldn’t be completely written off.
Deck doesn’t have the power stuff or upside of Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek, Dustin McGowan and Drew Hutchison or the major league experience of Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers and… Sean Nolin? But with the fifth spot in the Jays rotation currently undecided and the injury/performance issues from Brandon Morrow and J.A. Happ, a large number of pitchers could get opportunities, and Deck might just surprise a lot of people.