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Yellow Jackets Playing with a Full Deck
By Sean Ryan
McGuire spent much of the 2009 season establishing himself as
one of college baseball’s top pitchers. His reward was an invite
to try out for Team USA; his fallback was pitching for Orleans
in the Cape.
Shortly after being named the ACC’s Pitcher of
the Year, a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball
and a finalist for the National Pitcher of the Year, the Georgia
Tech right-hander sought advice from Yellow Jackets coach Danny
Hall about doing something few star college baseball players
“He asked, ‘What would you think if I don’t pitch
this summer?’” Hall said.
McGuire, a 6-6, 218-pound junior from Richmond,
Va., was in the midst of Team USA trials. He was beginning to
tire, physically and mentally. Despite having an incredible
opportunity with either Team USA or in the Cape, deep down, he
knew he needed a break.
“I talked to a lot of people and asked for a lot
of opinions,” McGuire said. “They all told me that I had done a
pretty good job of establishing my name. It was more beneficial
to take some time off.”
So McGuire chose the road less traveled.
He packed his gear and spent the summer in
Atlanta, close to his Georgia Tech home but far from the
Hall had told him that if he pitched in the
summer, he likely wouldn’t pitch in the fall. McGuire decided to
rest his arm so that he could be with the Yellow Jackets when
practice started in the fall.
was nice to relax for once,” said McGuire, a polite, yes-sir
kind of guy whose first name is William but always has been
known by his mother’s maiden name.
“I lifted, I ran. I kicked back and relaxed. You
don’t get much time to do that when you play a college sport.”
The Yellow Jackets, who finished 38-19-1 after
being surprised by Southern Miss in the Atlanta Regional final
last season, are banking on a rested and healthy McGuire to
again lead a rotation that returns junior Brandon Crumpton (4-3,
4.76 ERA) and reliever-turned-starter Mark Pope (5-1, 8 saves,
McGuire, a former high school quarterback and the
2007 Virginia State Baseball Player of the Year, went 11-2 with
an ERA of 3.50 and 118 strikeouts in 100.1 innings and has
compiled a 19-3 career mark. He boasts a fastball that
consistently is in the low-90s and reaches the mid-90s.
“The biggest thing I’ve always liked about Deck
is how he competes on the mound,” said a major league scout who
has tracked McGuire in high school and college. “He’s not afraid
to challenge hitters. That’s usually what the best guys do. He’s
not afraid to pitch off his fastball.”
When he arrived at Tech, Hall said McGuire’s
fastball was in the mid-to-upper 80s. He impressed that fall
with his ability to throw strikes, and Hall decided to use him
as a mid-week starter.
“By the end of the year, he was one of our best
pitchers,” Hall said, adding that McGuire could end up as one of
Georgia Tech’s best pitchers ever.
McGuire finished his freshman year 8-1 with a
3.46 ERA. And he went to work.
“I’ve lost 20 pounds and between 10 and 12
percent body fat,” he said. “I’m in way better shape. My arm
sped up, just from adding more muscle…My physical conditioning
is definitely the biggest difference.”
Plenty of people have noticed.
hitters hit just .232 off him a year ago. In a preseason
CollegeBaseballInsider.com survey of ACC coaches, McGuire was
tabbed the conference’s top pitcher. He’s a consensus preseason
All-American. And he’s projected by most experts to be taken in
the first round of the 2010 Major League Draft.
“His command and his confidence have really
improved a lot,” said the major league scout. “He has improved
immensely. His freshman year, they pitched him in the mid-week
and brought him along. They didn’t throw him into the fire. Last
year, he had confidence and a lot of success.”
Added Hall, who has guided Georgia Tech to an
average of 43.5 wins a year, 13 NCAA tourney appearances and
three College World Series berths in his 15 years: “He’s pitched
in one of the best leagues in the country. If you can have
success in our league, you can have success anywhere.”
(photos courtesy of Georgia Tech Media