- Full name Kurt Daniel Birkins
- Born 08/11/1980 in West Hills, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Pierce College
- Debut 05/04/2006
- Drafted in the 33rd round (984th overall) by the Baltimore Orioles in 2000.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Birkins had never attracted much attention until minor league spring training last year, when the Orioles thought he might be able to help the organization as a lefty specialist. That opportunity came sooner than expected, after just five starts in Triple-A, and Birkins performed well until his elbow started bothering him. He developed inflammation in the elbow because of a nerve problem, and he was shut down for more than a month before getting some work at the end of the minor league season and in instructional league. Birkins's curveball is his best pitch. He also has an 88-90 mph fastball and an an adequate changeup, though he won't use the latter pitch as much out of the bullpen. He'll need to refine his command to keep big league hitters off balance. Birkins is expected to be healthy for spring training, so he'll compete for a big league job.
Birkins was a draft-and-follow sign out of Los Angeles Pierce JC, where Barry Zito spent a year during his college career. Birkins originally attended UCLA but left after his freshman season in 1999 and took a year off. He intended to return to the Bruins but the Orioles drafted him, so he went to Pierce instead. He became a top juco prospect and signed for $400,000. In his first full pro season, Birkins was part of the Delmarva staff that featured some of the organization's best arms. He can touch the low 90s with his sinking fastball but usually pitches in the high 80s. His curveball and changeup are both solid pitches. His best attribute is his approach to pitching, as he has a good feel for how to attack hitters and is a strong competitor. Birkins is a converted outfielder who continues to smooth out his mechanics. He made mechanical refinements last year to help his command, and they also could improve his velocity. He'll move up to high Class A for 2003, and he profiles as an innings-eating starter.
Birkins left UCLA after his freshman season and took a year off, coaching at his former high school in suburban Los Angeles and working out. He intended to return to UCLA but the Orioles drafted him in the 33rd round in 2000, so he went to Pierce JC instead. Birkins had an impressive fall and became one of the top juco prospects in the nation. His velocity slipped in the spring, but he still would have been a premium pick if Baltimore hadn't signed him for $400,000. He held hitters to a combined .192 average in his pro debut. Birkins showed a fringe average fastball and reached the low 90s last year, though the Orioles think he could add velocity. His curveball and command are both assets. Birkins' build and stuff remind Baltimore of Erik Bedard. The will send him to low Class A to start 2002.