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McGuire plates three in Glendale victory

Pirates catching prospect hits game-tying double before scoring go-ahead run

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reese McGuire endured a rough offensive season in high Class A, batting .254/.301/.294 with just 15 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs in 98 games. The Pirates catcher drove in three runs just once all summer, but he matched that feat again Thursday night in the Arizona Fall League.

McGuire helped the Glendale Desert Dogs improve their AFL-best record to 5-1 with a 7-5 victory over the Salt River Rafters (3-4). His RBI groundout in the sixth inning tied the game 3-3, and his two-run double in the eighth knotted it again at 5-5. He came around to score what proved to be the winning run on a single by Andrew Knapp (Phillies).

After enduring the wear and tear of catching during Spring Training and five months of regular-season play, McGuire got just three off days before heading to instructional league to prepare for the AFL. He said he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I'm really excited to be here," McGuire said. "Getting around new players and new scenery has brought energy to me and gotten me going."

The 14th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, McGuire signed for $2,369,800 out of Kentwood High in Covington, Wash. Scouting reports on him as an amateur tagged him as an athletic defender behind the plate with a sweet left-handed stroke and the potential for average power.

Thus far in three years as a pro, McGuire's defense has stood out more than his offense (although it wasn't on display Thursday when he DHed). He has soft hands, receives and blocks balls well and has a strong arm. He needs to play more under control at times because he has 24 errors in 202 pro games behind the plate, but the ingredients are there for a Gold Glove catcher.

McGuire is further away from reaching his offensive upside. He has hit .271/.320/.328 as a pro, showing a knack for making contact but not yet displaying the ability to drive the ball. He has just 44 extra-base hits (including only three homers) in 246 games. He's only 20 years old, so time is on his side, but he'll have to get stronger to do damage at the plate.

McGuire says he's not worried about his offensive performance thus far, and he's not working on any particular adjustments in the AFL.

"The thing about being a competitor, I want to succeed on both sides to help my team win," he said. "I keep telling myself to take care of my defense and let the offense come when it does."

McGuire has gone 2-for-10 with two doubles and three walks in three starts for Glendale. He says facing and catching quality pitching in the AFL will help prepare him for the jump to Double-A next season.

"I love it," McGuire said. "Every day I'm learning. I feel like my baseball IQ behind the plate is improving. I'm picking the brains of [fellow Glendale catchers] Andrew Knapp and Kyle Farmer and I've learned a lot out here."

McGuire wasn't the only offensive hero for the Desert Dogs on Thursday. Center fielder Adam Engel (White Sox) singled, doubled, walked and scored three runs out of the leadoff spot. Second baseman Brandon Dixon (Dodgers) also reached base three times on two hits and a walk, scoring one run and driving in another.

Rafters first baseman Dominic Smith (Mets) remained as hot as any hitter in the league. He went 3-for-4 with a walk, including a loud two-run homer in the seventh inning that gave Salt River a short-lived 5-3 advantage. The 11th overall pick in the 2013 Draft leads the AFL with a .625 batting average and a .727 on-base percentage.

Jim Callis is a reporter for Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter.
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