Jays nab pitcher with first round pick

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 PM ET

Blue Jays scouts flew into Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta so often this spring one of three things were obvious:

1) They were prepping for The Masters.

2) They were searching all terminals for a rumoured statue erected in memory of original Jays manager Roy Hartsfield.

3) Or they were looking for a Georgia peach.

When their turn came, with the 11th overall pick, rookie scouting director Andrew Tinnish selected Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets right-hander Deck McGuire.

Tinnish watched North Carolina Tar Heels right-hander Matt Harvey (chosen seventh Monday by the New York Mets) face McGuire in April. McGuire pitched seven innings, allowing one run on six hits and three walks. He struck out 10, lowering his earned run average to 1.17.

Inside the Jays war room, formerly known as the SkyDome Founder’s Club on the 300 level, a number of scenarios played out as the Jays watched high schoolers Delino DeShields, Jr., go eighth overall to the Houston Astros and right-hander Karsten Whitson of Chipley, Fla. go ninth to the San Diego Padres, as the Jays tried to find a way.

Inside the room were 18 laptops, five boards listing players in order, TVs for watching videos of swings and deliveries, plus general manager Alex Anthopoulos, his assistant Dana Brown, assistant GM Tony LaCava, Tinnish and eight cross checkers as they tried to form a new foundation for their organization.

“McGuire’s a good pick,” an opposing scouting director said. “I know we liked him a lot.”

McGuire had a celebrated baseball and football career at Virginia’s Deep Run High, where as a senior he went 10-1, 1.35 with 129 strikeouts and set school records for homers and RBIs while hitting .479, with five homers and 31 RBIs. However, he went undrafted.

After going 8-1 as a freshman at Georgia Tech, McGuire established credentials pitching for Peninsula in the Coastal Plain League in the summer of 2008. He was 8-0, with a 1.28 ERA in 11 starts and allowing 35 hits in 56 innings while striking out 65.

This spring he was 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 16 starts, walking 33 and striking out 118 in 1122/3 innings. Opponents hit .226 against McGuire, whose Yellow Jackets played Alabama in the NCAA regional last night in Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound McGuire worked eight innings fanning six, with an excellent curve, in a 5-2 win over the Crimson Tide. He’s one of 30 semi-finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to the top amateur player in U.S. college baseball. He’s a nice book-end for hulking right-hander Chad Jenkins, the Jays’ No. 1 pick of a year ago.

The 11th overall pick a year ago, Tyler Matzek, a high schooler from Mission Viejo, Calif., was given a $3.9 million signing bonus.

“He has a heavy-sinking 90-94 m.p.h. two-seam fastball, a downer curveball, a hard 85-86 power slider and solid feel for his change,” said John Perrotto, editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com, “Hitters don’t get good swings at his fastball. Both his slider and curve have good shape.

“He uses his height to come at hitters from a steep downhill plane, making it tough for hitters to make good contact. He throws strikes and has excellent command.”

Right-hander Jameson Taillon, a Canadian citizen attending high school at The Woodlands, Tex., went second to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mom Christie is from Toronto and his pop is from north of Cornwall. His godparents Paula and Bruce Shaw were celebrating in Etobicoke. A year ago, the No. 2 pick, outfielder Dustin Ackley was given a $6-million bonus.

Catcher Kellin Deglan of Langley, B.C. went 22nd over-all to the Texas Rangers. Deglan played for coach Doug Mathieson’s Langley Blaze and Greg Hamilton’s Canadian national junior team. A year ago, the player in the selected in the same slot, Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson earned $1.85 million US.

The draft continues at noon today.


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