I’m sitting here watching a basketball game on ESPN. One of the Los Angeles Clippers rotation occupants is 28-year old C.J. Williams. The 28-year old Williams is a rookie.
The journey to pro ball is a long one. Even for those who take the shortest journey, it’s a grind. Williams has spent time in the G League (consider it Triple-A basketball) and since 2012, has been invited to an NBA training camp or summer league four times. He’s played overseas and after many trials and tribulations, he’s reached his NBA dream.
Deck McGuire is also 28 years old. McGuire was the 11th overall pick of the MLB Draft back in 2011 by the Toronto Blue Jays. He immediately became one of Toronto’s best prospects but like fellow pitching prospects of that era for the Blue Jays, it didn’t work out.
McGuire, Kyle Drabek (traded for Roy Halladay), Zach Stewart (acquired for Scott Rolen but with Edwin Encarnacion) and Asher Wojciechowski never materialized in the Blue Jays organization. Combined, the four former top prospects have totaled 375 innings amongst them (94.1 per), with Drabek and Stewart out of Major League Baseball.
A big league debut finally came for Deck McGuire last season with the Cincinnati Reds. After bouncing around from Toronto to the Los Angeles Dodgers to Oakland to St. Louis, things clicked with the Reds Double-A club last year.
For the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, McGuire put behind him six years of toiling in the minors. Only 55 of his 179 MiLB innings entering 2017 were pitched at Triple-A. He would stick with the theme and skip the level altogether with Cincy.
After 27 dazzling starts in Pensacola where he threw 168 innings with a 2.79 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and posted the third-highest strikeout rate of his career (9.1 per nine IP), it was time for his long overdue debut.
He continued his breakout year in the majors, totaling a 2.63 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 13.2 innings, starting twice and appearing in six games after rosters expanded in September. Outside of a four run hiccup in his first of two starts, he wasn’t scored on and surrendered just four hits in 10.2 frames.
His career has come full circle preceding 2018. The Blue Jays fastened his return, inking their old top draft pick to a minor league deal. With his big league feet wet, it’s full steam ahead for a renewed Deck McGuire.