Chatting with Chris McGuiness

Drafted out of The Citadel in the 2009 amateur draft, Red Sox prospect ChrisMcGuiness had at age 21 what could be termed a successful transition to pro ball with a .255/.374/.434 line in 196 at-bats for Single-A Lowell.
Playing first base, McGuiness admitted the process that landed him with Boston was stressful. “As a player, you are unsure of and really have no choice on who picks you and in what round.”
The who? Boston. The round? 13, which was high enough for McGuiness to forego his senior year at The Citadel, a five-minute drive from where he grew up.
Lowell, then, represented a foreign city and routine.
“It took a me a little while to get used to Lowell,” the 21-year old said. “I wouldn’t say that I was homesick… just trying to get accumulated with the changes that minor league ball has over college ball.”
Some adjustments that players have to contend with in the adjustment is from aluminum bats to wooden, more extensive traveling and the pressures that come with drawing a paycheck.
“Professional baseball is a grind,” McGuiness went on to say. “Many people outside of the game do not realize all the work and travel that minor leaguers put in day in and day out.
“Really, you can not complain because you are getting paid to play the game that you love and it’s a dream come true for me.”
McGuiness has been a first baseman since as far back as he can recall, given that he throws (and bats) left-handed while having minimal speed. As he grew older and started looking at his long-term prospects in baseball, he decided that first base was the best position to sell himself at.
What McGuiness excels at that made Boston select him is plate discipline. Case in point, he had a .520 OBP while playing for The Citadel as a freshman, hitting 15 home runs for a total line of .367/.520/.667 in 207 at-bats.
It’s interesting to hear the story behind his plate discipline, which characterizes McGuiness as not “jump[ing] out at balls and track[ing] pitches right into the glove.”
The story? He never paid much attention to the art of plate discipline while growing up. His father used to throw him batting practice often and he was always swinging away. But then high school came.
“Pitchers started throwing less strikes,” McGuiness noted. “I realized that taking my walks not only helped the team but it also helped me hit for average and keep my on base percentage up.”
With those 15 home runs to go along with the plate discipline, you would think McGuiness has untapped power potential. Not so — scouts and McGuiness alike don’t consider him the next David Ortiz.
“I just try to put my best swing on pitches that I can handle and shoot the ball in the gaps,” McGuiness said, noting that it was far easier to knock the ball out of the park with aluminum bats. In that sense, he’s had to change his game. “If I happen to get underneath one and it goes out, that’s a bonus — but as long as I barrel the ball up consistently, I’m happy with myself.”
In August, McGuiness hit an offensive funk just as he was promoted to Greenville, making his final Greenville lines less than appetizing: .150/.320/.200 in just 20 at-bats. McGuiness dismisses the higher competition as a reason for the slump. “At that time in the year, I was in a serious funk offensively that I didn’t get out of until the playoffs in Lowell.”
Now that the season is over, McGuiness is focused on attacking his weaknesses. “People in the front office sat down with each of us and stressed what aspects of the game we need to get better at,” McGuiness said. “I’m going to do all that i can in the offseason to better myself for next season.”
How about seasons down the line? Does he think about his long-term prospects in the organization?
“I try not to think about whats going to happen down the road because I have no control over it. All I can control is the way that I attack my game every day and try to get better.”