Saturday was the successful start of a second chance for Patrick McGuff.
The former Sinclair Community college pitcher threw off the Fifth Third Field mound for the first time. He felt the support of 15 family members and friends from Hamilton who were in the seats to witness his debut with the Dayton Dragons. McGuff’s start came after being released by the Minnesota Twins earlier this year and pitching in an independent minor league.
Best of all, McGuff pitched five scoreless innings to earn the victory in the Dragons’ 1-0 defeat of Kane County.
After the Dragons (11-12, 41-49) won their second straight, McGuff stood next to the stands behind home plate and talked about the night with his parents, grandparents, aunt and friends from home.
“I’m just thrilled that I did well, and I’m glad that they were here to see me and I was glad to see them,” McGuff said. “It was awesome to have them around. It might be like that every outing if I pitch at home.”
More nights like Saturday and the Reds will be even more glad the Twins let McGuff go. McGuff allowed four hits and a walk and struck out four. The Cougars (10-13, 45-47) loaded the bases against him in the first inning with one out on two singles and a walk. But McGuff came back to get a strikeout and grounder to end the inning. The Cougars didn’t get another runner past first base until the ninth.
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“He competed out there,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “He got in trouble a couple times and got out of the jam. I saw good things.”
McGuff, 24, is taking Tyler Mondile’s spot in the starting rotation. Mondile was suspended and then released by the Reds this past week.
“It’s a second chance,” McGuff said. “I kind of got a second chance in independent ball and this is my second affiliated chance of somebody taking a shot on me.”
His journey to Dayton began at Hamilton High School. Then he pitched at Wabash Valley Community College in Illinois for a year, then at Sinclair and finished college with two years at Morehead State. The Twins drafted him in the 36th round in 2016. He pitched on two rookie league teams that summer, then for Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League in 2017. He had a 2.40 ERA in 49 minor-league appearances. But the Twins didn’t want to send him back to Cedar Rapids this year and he was the odd man out to make the high A team in Fort Myers coming out of spring training.
“I accepted that and that was fine,” McGuff said. “We parted ways with no hard feelings at all. I was thankful that they gave me the initial opportunity to play.”
In the first two days after his release from the Twins, McGuff heard from eight independent teams. He chose Evansville in the Frontier League because the hitting coach had been one of his coaches at Wabash and he liked him. At Evansville he made four starts then missed a month with an oblique strain. He came back and made a fifth start. With a 3-1 record and 1.55 ERA, the Reds signed him.
“Being familiar with the area is nice, so I don’t feel like I’m as new as I am,” he said. “I love Dayton.”
In the first inning, Dayton’s Andy Sugilio singled and went to third on a single by Lorenzo Cedrola. An error off the bat of Leandro Santana brought Sugilio home with the only run.
And McGuff and relievers Miguel Aguilar and Aneurys Zabala did the rest.