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Then & Now: Chris McGuiness

Then & Now: Chris McGuiness
December 11, 2012
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Then & Now is a weekly feature at Indians Prospect Insider during the offseason that takes a look at a prospect’s past and present while also offering a possible glimpse into the prospect’s future.

In a change from a typical edition of Then & Now, this week’s edition will look at a player that really cannot be designated as a Cleveland Indians prospect.

For this week, we’ll look at first baseman Chris McGuiness, who was selected in last week’s Rule 5 Draft by the Indians. It just seems fitting to highlight McGuiness’ career since many Tribe fans may be in the dark in regard to what he brings to the table.

The 24-year-old left-handed hitting McGuiness completed a full season this past summer at Double-A Frisco, which is the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Like many of the Indians players featured in Then & Now, McGuiness has a significant amount of minor league experience as the former Citadel Bulldog and 13th round selection of the Boston Red Sox has been honing his craft in the minor leagues since 2009.

Yet, those days of toiling around in the minors could soon be over for McGuiness. With his selection in the Rule 5 Draft, McGuiness is going to get a genuine chance to earn a spot on the Tribe’s opening day big league roster.

So, with that being said, let’s take a look back at the career of a man who Tribe fans could start to see a lot more of in 2013.

Then:

McGuiness was drafted as junior by the Red Sox in the 13th round of the 2009 Draft out of the Citadel. McGuiness chose to forgo his senior season and quickly signed with the Red Sox. Before long, he made his debut for Single-A Lowell of the New York-Penn League and then ended the season at Single-A Greenville.

All things considered, McGuiness held his own in his first professional season. In 60 games between the two affiliates, the left-handed hitter posted a .245/.369/.412 line with six home runs, 39 RBI, 39 walks and 45 strikeouts. McGuiness had been known for his patient, advanced approach, and his strikeout to walk ratio helped indicate that.

While his plate discipline might have gotten him recognized in 2009, he was recognized for something else the following season — power.

McGuiness began the first part of the 2010 season back at Greenville where he began to put up some impressive numbers. In 78 games, McGuiness posted a .298/.416/.504 line with 12 home runs, 46 RBI, 53 walks and 59 strikeouts. The Charleston, South Carolina, native’s stock was high, and the Red Sox recognized this as they then traded him to the Rangers as part of a deal for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. McGuiness ended his season with the Rangers’ High-A affiliate, Bakersfield, where he posted a .250/.381/.450 line with seven home runs in 32 games.

McGuiness seemed poised for big things in 2011, but that unfortunately was not the case. McGuiness spent time on the disabled list on three different occasions that season and dealt with knee, upper back and oblique injuries. The final results for the season were not too pretty. Overall, in 55 games between High-A Myrtle Beach and the AZL Rangers, McGuiness posted a .214/.320/.296 line with only three home runs.

From a performance standpoint, it was evident that the injuries had taken a considerable toll, and McGuiness seemed to almost immediately go from a promising power-hitting prospect to a question mark moving forward.

Now:

Thankfully, McGuiness was healthy during the 2012 season, and he seemed to recapture much of his 2010 success.

In 123 games with Double-A Frisco, McGuiness posted a line of .268/.366/.474 with 23 home runs, 77 RBI, 69 walks and 107 strikeouts. The home run total was a new career-high for McGuiness, and the home run total also ranked fourth in the Texas League.

The season was also special because it indicated that McGuiness was not overwhelmed by the upper levels of the minor leagues. He had excelled as a power hitter at the Double-A level, so there was some hope that his bat might translate to the Major Leagues.

Though McGuiness’ strong 2012 season did not end when the minor leagues closed shop. McGuiness represented the Rangers this fall in the Arizona Fall League where he was very impressive and actually earned league MVP honors. Overall, he hit .283/.370/.467 with four home runs, 27 RBI, 13 walks and 16 strikeouts.

It was a fitting end to what had already been a fantastic year for the 24-year-old slugger.

Future:

With his selection in last week’s Rule 5 Draft, it’s safe to say that McGuiness’ future looks bright. As a Rule 5 selection, the Indians have to keep McGuiness on their Major League roster all season long or otherwise offer him back to the Rangers.

At this point, it really could go either way with McGuiness. While Sunday’s signing of Mark Reynolds ensures that he will not get a chance to become the regular first baseman, it would not be too surprising to see him stick with the Indians. The team now has some flexibility by no longer carrying a full-time designated hitter, so McGuiness can still fill a variety of roles.

McGuiness and Russ Canzler could possibly platoon at designated hitter, which makes sense because one player bats left-handed and the other bats right-handed. Either player could also fill in at first base so Reynolds could get some time at designated hitter.

However, the Indians are currently carrying a handful of first basemen, so McGuiness likely will still have to earn a roster spot in spring training. Besides Reynolds, Canzler and McGuiness, Lars Anderson, Mike McDade, Yan Gomes and even Matt LaPorta are all potential Major League first base/bench candidates.

Perhaps the best option for McGuiness would be for him to try his hand in the outfield, which is what the Rangers had reportedly planned on doing before he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Indians. This would help improve the versatility, and the Indians would also be able to find more creative ways to get his bat into the lineup.

Regardless, it’s safe to say that at this point, the future looks pretty good for McGuiness. The opportunity is there for him to contribute and help the big league club. Now it’s just up to him to go out and seize that opportunity.

Let’s hope he’s up to the task.

Previous Then & Now profiles:

Steve can be reached via email at orbaneks@gmail.com.

User Comments

theo
January 2, 2013 - 4:29 PM EST
This kid sounds like a left handed version of Aguilar.is there a platoon situation in the future. If it is a successful as the Vucovich Castillo platoon was in right field, I'' be happy
Joey
December 12, 2012 - 1:21 AM EST
Dang, that sucks. I know its always hard to find it when I look or search on google, usually just off of press releases or articles. And not to mention ever since mlb.com changed their transaction tab a few years ago its been kinda unreliable.
Tony
December 11, 2012 - 3:02 PM EST
Joey, I have considered such, but it would be hard to do since most of the bonuses are not made public, and while I can get some non-public figures, it would be an incomplete listing each year.
Shy
December 11, 2012 - 2:55 PM EST
Andy, I am glad you bright up Antonetti's trade of Stephen Wright- statistically at the time the number one starting pitcher in the entire Indians organization for Lars Andersen. After the Indians got a look at Andersen in Columbus Antonetti has since gone out and gotten not only McGuiness but Jan Gomes and Mike McDade and Mark Reynolds. Why didn't he do his due diligence in evaluating Andersen in a Pawtucket uniform? I know everyone thinks trading Pomeranz and White for Wildbaldo was a horrific move- and it was. But it's going to pale in comparison to the horror of watching Steven Wright pitch in the All-Star game. A good knuckleballer is like gold. Not only do they eat innings and win games, they throw off the timing of entire line-ups of opposing batters, making the pitchers that follow them more effective. There scarce as hen's teeth. Antonetti had one and traded him for someone that in 6 short months is now buried on the first base depth chart.
Joey
December 11, 2012 - 2:53 PM EST
Tony, you should have a tab for all the international signings with their bonuses through the years. I'd be interested to see the record of it
Andy
December 11, 2012 - 1:32 PM EST
Does taking McGuiness in the Rule 5 draft make the Lars Anderson-Steven Wright trade look even sillier for the Indians? Considering the widely varying opinions of how Santana rates defensively as a catcher, do you think there is any reluctance on the Indians' part to have a knuckleballer in their starting rotation?
Tony
December 11, 2012 - 1:03 PM EST
I'm not sure what will happen with McGuiness, but obviously the Indians see something in him to give him a legit shot to make their ML roster. He could be a guy they look to limit his exposure by platooning him at first base, designated hitter and left field as a left-handed bat off the bench. Someone mentioned it last week that he is kind of like Weglarz just without all the injuries, and if that is so, he might work out. Still, the odds are stacked against him, though it will make for an interesting secondary story to follow this spring.
Roger
December 11, 2012 - 12:10 PM EST
i dont know if the indians are trying to get a team of first basemen but at time it seems so only one player can play first base most 1b are inadaquate anyway else defensively so DH and 1B is about all. I have an idea to keep McGinness maybe to not have to rush him, swing a deal for joe smith and one other player to texas and the rights tokeep McG to ogando they may do it they have extra starters and smith gives them a change of pace in their bullpen
Jack
December 11, 2012 - 11:42 AM EST
I don't see McGinness making the jump from 2A to the majors. Yes many players have made that jump, but this is not a guy who is a premier prospect either. So the only way imo he remains an Indians is if they work out a deal with the Rangers so they can send him to Columbus.

But for that to happen, he'll have to impress them enough for them to believe he has a ML future.
Shy
December 11, 2012 - 11:11 AM EST
Last year Antonetti put the Indians out there in April with no left handed starting pitchers, and no right handed starting outfielders. This is clueless. Now he's fixated on flat footed first baseman w bad eyes and slow bats not to mention below average defensive skills. Let's see Russ Canzler, Jan Gomes, Mike McDade, Lars Anderson, Mark Reynolds, Chris McGinness- who you gave Hector Rondon up for by not rostering him. And of course you're going to have Carlos Santana playing there a bunch, and then there's Matt LaPorta. Antonetti is stubborn, fixated and he makes the same kind of mistakes over and over. Old man Dolan is no longer capable of thinking right and the kid is not a baseball guy at all or they would have fired Antonetti last year instead of Manny Acta. I think together they are running the franchise into the ground. I predicted halfway thru last season that the Indians would be sold or taken over by the MLB by 2015, I have seen nothing in the last 6 months to change my mind. If anyone is thinking Terry Francona is going to change things, not likely. He is being paid 4X what he was as an ESPN commentator and my last recollection of him is seated in a dugout with the RedSox losing big and the team totally out of control. IMO. He's along for the ride and and's it probably not going to be a pleasant one.

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