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All American Game : : Story

Published: Friday, August 03, 2012

The PG National Games, an event dedicated to the top underclassmen and held annually in conjunction with the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings, often serves as a preview of some of the players people can expect to participate in the following year's Classic. The 2011 edition was no exception.

Of the 25 players that were profiled among last year's top prospects, 10 will be playing on national television courtesy of CBS Sports on Sunday, August 12 as part of this year's Classic. The top prospect from last year's event was Reese McGuire, a catcher from Kent, Wash. whose scouting profiles routinely point out how he plays catcher with shortstop-like quickness.

It's no surprise that McGuire takes great pride in his defensive prowess.

I love to be the offense guy, get the big hit (etc.), but my strongpoint is catching,” McGuire said of his dedication to improving his defensive skills. “I've always loved to play, and I always look for the next thing I can get better at whether it's a certain way of catching the ball, or a certain way of blocking it. I take most of my pride in catching.”

As good as McGuire is behind the plate, the combination of his defense and his offensive potential has led to him being ranked the No. 8 overall player, and the No. 1 overall catcher, in the class of 2013. A left-handed hitter, McGuire is short to the ball with the ability to make consistent, hard contact to all parts of the field. Again, this is by no accident.

My thought is to hit the ball wherever it's pitched and not necessarily waiting for it to be thrown to a certain spot,” McGuire said. “I'm not trying to get a hit because you can't necessarily dictate if you're going to get a hit or not, you just hope it finds a hole. Even if you go 0-for-4 with four line-outs right at someone that's still a good day because you're hitting the ball well.”

Playing in the Pacific Northwest at Kentwood High School in his hometown of Kent, Wash., McGuire has been a known commodity for quite some time. In addition to his time spent playing at the PG National Games, McGuire also attended the 2011 WWBA World Championship as a member of the Midland Redskins/Royals Scout Team, and attended the National Showcase in Minneapolis, Minn. earlier this summer.

Coming to the (National) Showcase you get to see the top prospects that you don't get to see all of the time in your individual state,” McGuire said of his experience at the Metrodome in mid-June. “It's pretty exciting to come together to play with and against the best.”

Those are the ones that (coaches and scouts) said, “these are the ones you should go to,” McGuire continued, pointing out the conscious choices he has made to attend the events he has given the travel involved. “For my parents it's been kind of crazy to figure out who's going to come with me whether it's my mom or my dad. I've actually travelled to places with say, my mom, and from there I flew to another state, my mom flew home, but then my dad flew out to meet me so he could go to the next event. They're always flip-flopping since my dad is always working and my mom has the summer off being a teacher which makes it a little bit easier, but it definitely can be a little bit tough.”

McGuire's participation in those events, where he continues to prove that he can indeed play at a high level with and against the top players from across the nation, led to his selection to participate in the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic.

One of the biggest allures of playing in the Classic is to be showcased in front of a national audience on television, and for a catcher it provides the opportunity to manage an all-star collection of pitchers. That cast has included current MLB hurlers Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Latos and Madison Bumgarner as well as budding young arms such as Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole and Lucas Giolito.

It's awesome to step up to the plate and be challenged by the top pitchers in the country, knowing that they're going to be throwing their best stuff and you're going to be giving your best swing every time,” McGuire said when asked what part of the game he looked forward to the most. “I'm very excited to get back there behind the dish and catch. The more I catch that kind of (velocity) the more it comes more naturally.

I really enjoy working with them because everyone is on the same page, we're working to get with pitch calling, getting to know each other. It's very exciting, because it's not something everyone gets to do and experience.”

In the process of his time spent at the 2011 PG National Games, conducted at Cunningham Stadium of the University of San Diego campus, he has since committed to play college ball for the Toreros.

San Diego has always been my favorite vacation spot,” McGuire said of his commitment.  
“I just love the area, love the beaches and the weather is just perfect, the perfect temperature for baseball.

Going to the showcase at the San Diego field, my dad and I were walking off the field at the end of the showcase and we ended up getting a little tour of the school. It was a no-brainer for me, just everything that I saw, the ballfield and that area were everything that I had thought and dreamed of. I was real comfortable with the idea of going in and starting as a freshman.”

In addition to getting to know fellow USD recruits, including All-American teammates Stephen Gonsalves and Ian Clarkin, McGuire recognizes that the opportunities to play at numerous prominent, national events has allowed him to make some life-long friendships.

I definitely knew some of them,” McGuire said. “I met Stephen Gonsalves at the (PG National Games), so we got to know each other and we're pretty close friends now. We talk, text and tweet all of the time. I'm close to Dustin Driver as well since we've played on some scout teams together. I'm pretty close to a lot of the guys now, everybody seems to gel together since we're all in it with the same goal.

It's pretty exciting because I met a lot of good (people) there, people that I probably wouldn't have met if I didn't go to the National (Showcase). But yeah, you can look at what the other top guys have and what you may have on them or find things that you can work on.”

One thing that all of the Perfect Game All-Americans have in common, past and present, is their participation in an event in which the proceeds are donated to local children's hospitals to aid in treatment of pediatric cancer. For many young players, this is a concept readily recognized as a noble and worthy cause, but rarely truly appreciated until they visit Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

That's something I didn't really understand at first, and then I read about it and heard about it and I realized how incredible the exposure this big national event creates,” McGuire said, eager to take part of all of the events, on and off the field, as part of the Classic. “They can really benefit with a cause like this. I think it's a great thing that Perfect Game does this.”

Prior to taking in all of the activities that make up the three full days of the Classic, McGuire has another stop in Southern California. McGuire leaves this weekend to Long Beach, Calif. to participate in the Area Code Games before he makes yet another stop to his favorite vacation destination. That stop could be his last before he is faced with the decision to honor his college commitment at the University of San Diego or turn pro, and it's one he's looking forward to.

To be selected is an honor because there are so many great players out there with tons of talent. It's one thing to be an all-star and fill a position on your own team, but to be chosen as one of the top (players) in the country is awesome.”

 
 
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