Deck McGuire looks to make amends at Tech before pros call

Deck McGuire feels better prepared for this postseason after taking a break from baseball last summer. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Deck McGuire feels better prepared for this postseason after taking a break from baseball last summer. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

In what likely was to be his final summer as an amateur athlete, Deck McGuire made a stunning decision. He chose to pass on the beauty contests.

He could have played on the U.S. national team. He could have played in the Cape Cod League, a haven for college stars looking to strut across the stage for scouts in a final amateur summer audition before the next draft, just like a swimsuit competition.

McGuire stayed in Atlanta. Slept late. Worked out. Goofed off with friends. Sat by the pool.

“There are a lot of guys in his situation who are trying to set themselves up for the draft the next year,” Georgia Tech baseball coach Danny Hall said Thursday. “A guy can go up there to Cape Cod and be successful and he can stink in college the next year, but he’ll be drafted based on what [scouts] saw in the summer. That says a lot about Deck McGuire.”

Georgia Tech opens play in the NCAA Atlanta Regional Friday night against Mercer. This is as good a team as coach Danny Hall has had in a while, a chance to get back to the College World Series. McGuire is a big reason for that. He is 8-4 and ranks No. 1 in the ACC in strikeouts (112) and innings pitched (104 2/3) and No. 2 in earned run average (3.01) and opponents’ batting average (.223).

But ask McGuire what sticks with him most going into this NCAA postseason and he’ll refer you to a game one year ago this week. It was a 12-8 loss to Southern Miss that knocked the Jackets out of their home regional. McGuire, then a sophomore, started on two days rest. He imploded shortly thereafter.

Deck McGuire was dejected after giving up nine runs (four earned) and seven hits in two earnings against Southern Miss last season. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

McGuire was dejected after allowing nine runs (four earned) in two innings against Southern Miss last season. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The second inning was a Wes Craven movie: nine runs.

“Pretty rough,” he said. “I felt like I had decent stuff. They just hit everything I threw to home plate.”

Most college athletes in McGuire’s position would let go of this pretty quickly. The draft is next week, he could be a top 10 selection and a potential $2 million signing is in his personal on-deck circle. But McGuire was less concerned last summer about impressing scouts and potentially improving his draft stock than he was about making amends and coming back strong for Tech.

“He wasn’t going to let pro baseball or advisers talk him into doing something he didn’t feel comfortable doing,” Hall said. “That says something about Deck. You can say, ‘Well, how much was he really going to improve his stock in the Cape Cod League?’ But most guys’ egos are going to tell them to go up to there and pitch.”

Talking about the draft makes McGuire uncomfortable. He says his focus is on the Jackets. A lot of college athletes say things like that, but with him you actually believe it. Taking the summer off was about resting his arm, maturing and winning.

Hard to believe, this is somebody who wasn’t even drafted out of high school.

“It’s all still kind of surreal,” he said of major league projections.

What changed?

“My mentality,” he said. “I think I had some confidence issues. I learned how to attack hitters more and work off my fastball rather than just relying on my breaking stuff.  When I found my comfort zone, that’s what really jumped me from being undrafted to this.”

He’s still a big, goofy kid (6-6, 223 pounds), a former high school quarterback who probably never really got serious about baseball until that sport was over. Even Hall says he never envisioned McGuire getting this good.

“I thought he would be a nice player to have and he’d get better,” he said.

Hall set up his rotation for McGuire to pitch Saturday, not the opener, something the player didn’t have a problem with.

“We’ve come really close the last couple of years, but our pitching has let us down, and I’m a big part of that,” he said. “This year I kind of came in with a chip on my shoulder.”

Rest can’t get rid of that.

Recent posts

Selig blows the call worse than umpire on ‘imperfect’ game

Baseball must add replay to avoid more ‘imperfect’ games

‘Vote For Prado’ T-shirts could jump-start All-Star campaign

Braves dump Phillies again, Chipper may be coming around

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

27 comments Add your comment

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

June 3rd, 2010
6:08 pm

Why would they paint a little dog?

Jeff Schultz

June 3rd, 2010
6:18 pm

Russ. … Russ, Russ, Russ …. and you didn’t even bark, “First!”

Buzz29

June 3rd, 2010
6:51 pm

Deck’s gone. Hope he takes a CWS ring with him to Baltimore or Kansas City or where ever he gets drafted.

And why even entertain the stupid comments JS?

Jamaaliver

June 3rd, 2010
6:58 pm

Nice to see a kid focused on getting the most out of collegiate/amateur days instead of only focusing on how he is positioned for the pros. Wish more potential top draft picks in Basketball were this focused on doing right by their teammates and college teams.

Buzz29

June 3rd, 2010
7:01 pm

Robinson is the best pitcher out of this years draft class. The next great MLB closer. I called it and in 10 years I want the credit.

wawel78

June 3rd, 2010
7:18 pm

I’m just going to post this one more tiny little time, only because I love to be irritating:

On July 4, 1908, Hooks Wiltse of the New York Giants hit Philadelphia Phillies pitcher George McQuillan on a 2–2 count in a scoreless game—the only time a 0–0 perfect game has been broken up by the 27th batter. Umpire Cy Rigler later admitted that he should have called the previous pitch strike 3. Wiltse pitched on, winning 1–0; his ten-inning no-hitter set a record for longest complete game no-hitter that has been tied twice but never broken.

On September 2, 1972, Milt Pappas of the Chicago Cubs walked San Diego Padres pinch hitter Larry Stahl on a borderline 3–2 pitch. Pappas finished with a no-hitter. The umpire, Bruce Froemming, was in his second year; he went on to a 37-year career in which he umpired a record 11 no-hitters. Pappas believed he had struck out Stahl, and years later continued to bear ill will toward Froemming

Herschel Talker

June 3rd, 2010
7:52 pm

Who cares about a Georgia Tech baseball player?

todd grantham

June 3rd, 2010
8:01 pm

Jeffrey, as to your previous blog on Selig, if he had reversed the call do you think the perfect game would have carried an asterisk in the record books?

Jacket Backer

June 3rd, 2010
8:27 pm

obviously you do herschel….. thanks for the interest!!!

Go Jackets!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajcgatech, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Deck McGuire looks to make amends at Tech before pros call http://bit.ly/bnLDhC [...]

Jeff Schultz

June 3rd, 2010
9:15 pm

Buzz29 — I dunno. Maybe because he’s such a cute little doggy.

Jeff Schultz

June 3rd, 2010
9:16 pm

Todd Grantham — I’m sure any time somebody referenced that perfect game, it would’ve been addressed. Whether there literally would’ve been an asterisk in the record book, I doubt it. But can’t say for sure and we’ll never know.

Jeff Schcuztl wanna be

June 3rd, 2010
9:43 pm

Jeff, why do the less than smart, go to an article read it and then take the time to post something very smart like “who cares”? This seems to be less than honest and less than smart. Thought you’d have some insight.

Jeff Schultz

June 3rd, 2010
10:49 pm

Me Wannabe — Sorry. No insight here. I’m insightless.

Buzz29

June 4th, 2010
12:01 am

At the end of the day he’s still a dog and dogs lick their butt.

St Pius Alumni

June 4th, 2010
12:03 am

Does anybody at the AJC sports section know anything about this FIFA World Cup I keep hearing about from every other sports media outlet?

Too Easy

June 4th, 2010
8:06 am

too bad he wasn’t pitching against UGAY. when you score 23 runs, you can afford a 9 inning blow up

jack f

June 4th, 2010
8:09 am

Here is the perfect answer to the question about the FIFA world cup……Who in their right mind cares?

Yep

June 4th, 2010
8:46 am

Herschel Talker

I can think of 30 or so teams that might care about a Tech Baseball Player. Especially this one. By the way, didn’t the dawgs lose to Tech by 19 once this season?? And Kennesaw State 11-1?? Ouch.

Happy Jack

June 4th, 2010
8:56 am

Yeah, because a FIFA blog would get a more hits than….(fill in your metaphor here)

MatthewH

June 4th, 2010
9:02 am

Remember, Strasburg wasn’t drafted out of High School either. I think changing his mentality is the right call. BUt, I have to diasagree with Buzz29-he’s not the best pitcher in this years draft. That honor goes to Jameson Taillon who will be drafted 3rd by Baltimore.

That Guy

June 4th, 2010
9:14 am

Agreed. Taillon is very very talented. Without a doubt the first pitcher taken.

[...] ♦ Deck McGuire looks to make amends at Tech before pros call [...]

[...] ♦ Deck McGuire looks to make amends at Tech before pros call [...]

well i told u GT would choke

June 8th, 2010
8:16 am

Ha ha again under Hall another chokin season by a SEC team beat a ACC team.and what cry babys to waa waa we choke so we cry as alabama leaps for joy on Tech home field must be nice Joe Hall famous words…We stink again as always/Well not really he blames playin again in one day no off day.Lets face facts GT is awful in baseball at CWS times n Joe Hall is the Bobby cox of college baseball!

Fire the coach

June 8th, 2010
8:48 am

Seriously, when is D Rad going to wake up and fire this chump we have coaching the baseball team?? He can’t win in the postseason- just can’t do it.

Dawgy

June 8th, 2010
12:47 pm

HA HA HA HA!!!!!!! Again, another choke by the Coke!!!! This should be a headline instead of a back page story ,as the AJC has it. When they beat Mercer and Alabama, it was plastered on the front-center of the Sports page. Now that they choked AGAIN, you can’t even find it anywhere.