- Full name Brandon Lee Birdsell
- Born 03/23/2000 in Conroe, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 240 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Texas Tech
Drafted in the 5th round (143rd overall) by the Chicago Cubs in 2022 (signed for $385,000).
View Draft ReportBirdsell has come a long way in his four years of college ball (one year at Texas A&M, one year at San Jacinto (Texas) JC and two years at Texas Tech). A mid-April rotator cuff injury derailed Birdsell’s 2021 season. He was still drafted by the Twins in the 11th round, but he opted to return to Texas Tech to improve his draft standing. He should do better this year after going 9-3, 2.75 with 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s completely reworked his delivery and filled out from 210 pounds as a freshman to 245 pounds now. Birdsell once was a flamethrower with no idea of where the ball was going. Birdsell’s delivery now is both simple and unorthodox. He simply breaks his hands and goes home as if he’s playing a game of catch, but with a slight stutter as he hangs over his plant leg, which messes with hitters’ timing. It’s paid off in improved control. Birdsell’s plus four-seam fastball sits at 95-96 mph and has touched 99. He carries that velocity through his starts. His above-average mid-80s slider has more depth than tilt, which allows it to be effective against lefties as well as righties. He throws a fringe-average 86-87 mph changeup almost exclusively to lefties. Birdsell has at least a solid path as a two-pitch reliever, but his control improvements give him a shot of going out in pro ball as a starter. His age (22) will likely hurt him on many teams’ boards.
After a year at Texas A&M and a year at San Jacinto (Texas) JC, Birdsell stepped into the Friday starter role at Texas Tech in 2021. He was on track to go pretty well in the 2021 draft, but in his eighth appearance of the season he had to leave the game with a shoulder injury that led to him being shut down for the remainder of the season. Birdsell was 4-1, 3.06 with 36 strikeouts in 35.1 innings with a .217 opponent batting average before the injury. He sat 93-95 mph and touched 99 mph in that role and he carried 95-97 mph deep into his starts. In addition to a plus fastball, Birdsell showed solid command of an above-average 84-88 mph slider with 1-to-7 movement. Few scouts saw Birdsell’s delivery as being a good fit to be a starter long term, but his fastball/slider combination seemed pretty tailor made to fit in a high-leverage relief role. Now his injury status makes it more likely that he’ll return to school to prove he’s healthy.
A 39th-round pick of the Astros out of high school, Birdsell pitched sparingly at Texas A&M as a freshman (nine appearances out of the bullpen) and opted to transfer to San Jacinto (Texas) JC for his sophomore season. After an impressive summer with the Matsu Miners in the Alaska Summer League, he got off to a slow start with the Gators. But his fastball got firmer and his control improved and he seemed to be hitting his stride when the shutdown happened. He had struck out 22 and walked 1 over his final 13 innings at San Jac. Birdsell had Tommy John surgery in 2016, but he’s been durable so far in college and his arm action is relatively clean. He sits 93-94 mph on his fastball and has touched 97-98 in short stints. His slider was a low-80s cement mixer not that long ago, but this spring he developed a much harder, 87-90 mph shorter slider. Birdsell is committed to Texas Tech if he doesn’t sign. He may benefit from another year of starting in college, but his upside could entice a team in the fifth round.
Birdsell, a Texas signee, has one of the best arms in Texas, as he's shown he's fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery he had in 2016. The righthander can sit 91-93 mph and touch 95. His feel for pitching and his secondary offerings have work to do to catch up to his fastball, but his frame, athleticism and fast arm could entice teams that he's worth being patient.