7/9/22 : Spotlight Series - Guthrie & McKay
Written by Steve Potter
In between writing the minor league roundups and weekly and monthly standouts I thought I’d intersperse a few player spotlights 😎 - perhaps some fellas you haven’t heard much about. Today’s spotlight is on Multi position player Dalton Guthrie & RHP Tyler McKay.
Dalton Guthrie - Lehigh Valley - 26 years old - 2017 6th round draft selection - University of Florida.
Dalton has played six defensive positions this season ( 2B,SS,3B, LF, CF, RF ), prior to last summer he had strictly been an infielder. In fact he was an outstanding shortstop for the 2017 national champion Florida Gators. I asked him if he’s comfortable in the outfield and which outfield position he prefers - “Definitely way more now. Probably center a little more.” To date this season he’s played 275 innings in center field, 115 in right and 5 in left - only one error in 98 chances. While he still enjoys the infield the most, in particular shortstop he said “I think shortstop is my best position but I’ll play wherever they tell me to.”
Offensively Dalton has had a very solid season, he’s currently posting career highs in both slugging and on base percentage and has 14 multi hit games and three games with 4 or more RBIs. Phillies Minor league hitting coordinator Jason Ochart told me Dalton’s success is a product of being “mostly focused on being more selective before two strikes and looking to drive the ball - eliminating chases and soft contact.” He noted that Guthrie spent time at Drive Line this off-season to work on those things in particular along with increasing his bat speed.
Dalton collaborated that by saying “I think just getting more at bats has made the difference. I’ve just learned from more reps really as simple as it sounds and have stopped guessing at pitches. My approach is to just hit whatever I see that looks like a pitch I can do damage on. Some guys can guess as hitters but I just can’t. Makes for a frustrating game when you guess wrong.”
Guthrie’s dad Mark was a major league pitcher who played 15 years in the big leagues with 8 different organizations, he was a world champion in 1991 as a member of the Minnesota Twins. I asked Dalton if his dad ever offered advice - he laughed and responded “He came the other night actually to my game, I believe said “Wow that looks a lot faster in person than on tv 😁.”
I told him that many fans don’t realize the talent level that hitters face in pro ball - even on the backfields I often see big time velocity and pitch movement - Dalton said “Oh it’s no joke. There is serious talent on any minor league field.”
I’m very happy that Dalton has experienced success and believe in his abilities to play at the next level. I told him that hopefully an opportunity will come soon, in the interim he will keep grinding out AB’s for the Iron Pigs and playing wherever the skipper needs him. We will be watching and cheering him along - he’s got some serious baseball talent.
Tyler McKay - Reading - 24 years old - 2018 16th round draft selection - Howard Junior College, Texas.
This spring training Tyler converted from a starting pitcher to a reliever - in fact came early to get his work in to do so. He’s had great success this season earning a promotion from High A Jersey Shore to AA Reading on June 6th. In 34 innings pitched to date combined he’s posted a 2.38 ERA in 24 games with 30 strikeouts and 11 walks.
I asked Tyler how he’s acclimated to a bullpen role, he said “Adapting to the bullpen was difficult at first just learning a new daily routine and the reality that any day you can get the ball and you have to be ready. The mindset doesn’t change much, just have to slow down the game in more high leverage situations that you’ll be in late in games and do the best to get your team the win that day.”
Phillies Minor league pitching coordinator Travis Hergert told me that Tyler has a “riding two seam fastball ( 93-95 mph ), a sweeping slider and a bowling ball change up. He developed a cutter in the off season to use against left handed hitters.” Tyler also committed to more of a 3/4 arm slot delivery last season and that he attributes his bullpen role success to the fact that he “sold out to the reliever role in spring training.”
I remember watching a bullpen session by Tyler back in 2019 at the complex on the mounds between Schmidt and Ashburn fields and telling him afterwards that the velocity and movement were very impressive, the ball out of his hand had the riding life that Coach Hergert described and the downward run on the changeup was very deceptive. Last season he went on the IL on June 12th with shoulder impingement syndrome but returned in mid July and pitched very well. That’s carried over to this year and he’s now positioned himself on the radar for even further advancement. Another good young man we continue to root for as he climbs his way up the baseball ladder.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Dalton Guthrie ( top photo - taken by Cheryl Pursell ) & Tyler McKay ( bottom photo - taken by George Youngs Jr )