Pirates announce signing of first-round pick McGuire

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 2:15 p.m.

Reese McGuire thought he knew how to handle pressure until the Pirates asked him to do something that took more concentration than throwing out base stealers or hitting a curveball.

“I was a little worried about the urine test,” he said.

“In the past, I got a little stage fright,” explained McGuire, the Pirates' second of two first-round choices in this year's Major League Baseball Draft.

As it turned out: No problem.

With that test out of the way, McGuire, 18, signed a Pirates contract that came with a $2.369 million bonus Tuesday. In the process, he passed up the first full scholarship offered to a position player by the University of San Diego.

The Pirates have signed 16 players from their draft class but are still negotiating with the ninth overall pick, Austin Meadows.

Less than a month after graduating from Kentwood High (Wash.) High School, McGuire will report Wednesday to the Pirates' rookie-league team in the Gulf Coast League. McGuire was the 14th overall pick – the highest a high school catcher was selected since the Marlins took Kyle Skipworth sixth in 2008.

“Our scouts believe he can be a quality hitter with power as he matures,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.

McGuire said he hits with confidence.

“Stepping up to the plate, it doesn't matter who is on the mound,” he said.

His unique gift is on defense.

“The most amazing things are the subtle things,” Kentwood coach Mark Zender said. “His ability to throw the baseball to the bases is as good as you'll ever see. The time it takes for him to transfer the ball to his hand and get rid of it is lightning quick. Then, he has a throwing arm where from his knees it's on a dime perfect.

“It's unreal. His pop-to-pop to second time is 1.77 (seconds) consistently. That's better than most major league catchers.”

McGuire comes from a baseball family — his paternal grandfather John played baseball with Dick Groat at Duke. He started catching as a 10-year-old when he called pitches for his 11-year-old brother Chase, who plays at Seattle University.

“I wanted to be in the play every pitch,” he said. “I really feel natural behind the plate.”

McGuire's leadership skills surfaced when he called the team together after a loss. He said he spoke with passion rising in his voice.

“The team just didn't bring the full game,” he said. “I put it out there. I said, ‘Hey, if we do this again, our next game is in the state (playoffs) and we are going to be out.'

“The way they bounced back was awesome.”

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