Bats - Jared Wickerham
Taking a look at the past, present and future of Ranger minor league first baseman Chris McGuiness
Let's flush out a bit of the editorial process in print, shall we? That'll really ruffle the feathers of the old guard of the publication prism.
I think I'll start a little series, currently titled "Past, Present, Future", wherein, I'll try to relay what I know of a prospect and his abilities and possibilities. I thought about calling this series "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", but I had an inkling that would result in a rather tersely-worded Cease and Desist letter, so I moved on to plan B. Anyway, let's try it out with our fist subject:
Chris McGuiness 1B, B-left T-left, 6'1" 210lbs, 4/4/88(age 24)
Past: Chris was acquired in the trade with the Red Sox for Jarrod Saltalamacchia (along with emerging righty Roman Mendez). Originally a 13th Round pick by the Sox, Chris, a native of James Island, SC played his college ball at The Citadel. Want to talk about makeup? Okey dokey. He was an ESPN 1st Team Academic All-American at The Citadel in 2009. And that should just about sum up everything you need to know about the kid's wiring. He led the entire country in walks in 2009, a trait that we'll discuss more momentarily. He pitched a little in college, but hasn't, and likely won't, meandered onto the mound in professional ball. His professional progression has been rather traditional in that he's seen games at each level. After spending all of 2010-2011 playing for low and high-A clubs, he made the big jump to the AA universe in 2012, had a great season, and was part of a remarkable Frisco team that lost the Championship series. At 24 years old, and now with the vaunted 1,500 plate appearances under his belt, a clear picture is developing as to Chris' skills, weaknesses, and possibilities.
Present: .268/.366/.474 in 2012. In a nutshell: Chris is a solid, capable, though unspectacular first baseman with power at the plate and a rather discerning eye for a hitter of his ilk. As I mentioned before, he's always been adept at drawing walks and hitting the ball over the fence, but his overall hit tool is likely to continue to lag behind. The consensus is that Chris' biggest issue is bat speed. His pitch recognition and balance are good, but at times, he has trouble catching up to good heat, especially when well sequenced and preceded by solid offspeed offerings. He led Frisco in walks in 2012 with 69, while striking out 107 times. He knows the zone. The good news is he barrels a bunch of pitches and as the season wore on, he was more and more capable of punishing mistakes. He'll primarily pull the ball, though I have seen him hit an opposite field bomb when he went with an outside FB and he was using the opposite field more and more as 2012 wore on. He was, perhaps, the most consistent member of the 2012 Rough Riders, both in the field and at the plate. He's not a huge guy, but he's solid as a rock. He is positionally limited to 1B, and speed is not a part of his game. In 350 MiLB games, he now has a total of 4 stolen bases and 6 caught-stealings.
Future:Texas isn't very strong with regards to 1B prospects, and McGuiness will need to be added to the 40-man this winter to avoid being Rule 5 eligible. He's going to be 25 next April and likely headed to AAA, and maybe because of his position, or the home runs, or maybe just because of his first name, I get a fair amount of questions as to whether or not he's another version of Chris Davis. In short, no. By the time Chris Davis was McGuiness' current age, he had over 800 MLB plate appearances, 39 home runs, and had played 3B and 1B. McGuiness has never played any position other than 1B as a professional and everybody knows that serious 1B prospects gotta hit and they gotta hit big and often. His ability to go the opposite way with pitches will seriously help his hit tool and it's, frankly, something he must continue to do. He has made significant and marked improvements in his game and even flourished following arguably the biggest jump in pro ball. He deserves credit for his work and his continued development. Nonetheless, he's a guy to whom nothing will be given. I'm concerned about his ability to adjust to the advanced pitchability and more deceptive deliveries he'll see at the next level(s). When he lowers his hands and gets the bat head through the zone on time, good things can happen. It remains to be seen as to whether or not he can do that often enough to make it to the big leagues. Having said that, I'm not eager to bet against a smart, hard working kid from a military college. He's got work to do in order to make it to the big leagues, but I get the feeling he's aware of that and, frankly, he's on it.
Enjoy baseball! Love Ya!