Reese McGuire came home to family, friends and a familiar ballpark as a starting catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.
The former Kentwood High star made the most of the opportunity. He scratched out a single, scored a run and played a solid game from behind the plate – relentlessly blocking, scooping and snagging baseballs – in the Blue Jays’ 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
McGuire, 24, didn’t play in Toronto’s 7-5 win Saturday but got the start Sunday, going 0-3 in a 3-1 loss to the Mariners.
“It’s a dream come true,” McGuire told MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson before his start on Friday night. “This is the ballpark I grew up in, watching the Mariners. I remember when it was Safeco Field. It’s going to be awesome. The family is one thing, but it’s more the teachers, classmates and everyone along the way that’s been a part of everything I’ve been able to do. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Called up from Triple-A Buffalo on July 27, McGuire has hit three home runs, a pair of doubles and driven in four RBI in 13 games with the Blue Jays. He is hitting .222 after 33 at-bats.
One of his three homes came against the Mariners on Aug. 17 at Toronto.
He was hitting .247 with five home runs and 29 RBIs in 72 games at Buffalo before his call-up.
McGuire made his Major League Baseball debut with Toronto last year, smashing a double in the Blue Jays’ 9-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. He started at catcher and batted eighth in the Sept. 6 game. McGurire doubled off reliever Dan Otero in the ninth inning. He also threw out – from his knees – Jose Ramirez trying to steal second base in the fourth.
His parents, Scott and Robin McGuire, made the trip from Kent to Toronto to see their son’s debut.
McGuire played 13 games with the Blue Jays last year.
McGuire, who bats left and throws right, is the third Kentwood graduate to play in the majors. Pitcher Austin Voth made his debut in July 2018 with the Washington Nationals. Matt Hague made his debut in 2012 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A 2013 Kentwood graduate, McGuire was drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Pirates. He was the 14th overall picked and signed a contract that included a $2.3 million bonus. McGuire had received a college scholarship to play baseball at the University of San Diego, but decided to turn pro.
Pittsburgh traded McGuire to the Blue Jays in 2016. In 96 games this year with Triple-A Buffalo, McGuire batted .233 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs. The 6-foot-1 McGuire batted .436 his senior season at Kentwood with four home runs and 20 RBIs. He was named the 2013 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year.
McGuire is the middle of three brothers who played at Kentwood. Oldest brother Cash McGuire played baseball at Seattle University. Youngest brother Shane McGuire is a junior first baseman at the University of San Diego.
In addition to the three MLB players, Kentwood has produced six other professional athletes, including Rodney Stuckey, NBA; Courtney Vandersloot and Lindsey Moore, WNBA; Ernie Conwell and Mike Karney, NFL; and Cam Weaver, Major League Soccer.