The signing of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for $3.9 million in 2015 left the Blue Jays in the penalty box during the 2016 international signing period. Unable to sign players for more than $300,000, they sought to be creative, which led them to a showcase in Tijuana, Mexico.
There was a catcher on the Tijuana club drawing attention, so international scouting director Andrew Tinnish dispatched trusted scout Dean Decillis to take a look.
Decillis was underwhelmed by that catcher, but was impressed instead by a 17-year-old backstop others were overlooking.
“He’s like, ‘He’s big—it’s not a great body. But he can really hit and he can really throw and for his size, for his body, he moves around really well,’ ” Tinnish recalled Decillis saying.
That’s how the Blue Jays signed Alejandro Kirk for $30,000 in September 2016. Three and a half years later, the 21-year-old is quickly rising up the club’s prospect rankings and was impressing in big league camp.
“I didn’t even know they went to see someone else in the showcase,” Kirk said through translator Hector Lebron. “I did the best I could, and eventually they signed me. I guess they liked what I did.”
They continue to like what the 5-foot-9, 220-pound Kirk has done. Last season he hit .290/.403/.465 with seven home runs in 92 games at two Class A stops.
“He can do everything you ask, even though it looks like he probably shouldn’t be able to,” catching coordinator Ken Huckaby said. “There really aren’t a lot of comps for the way he’s built. Sometimes players come along who just break the mold. You can’t explain it. They can just do it. And that’s the way I look at him.”
Kirk may begin at Double-A New Hampshire, which would test what Tinnish described as “elite bat-to-ball skills,” and pitchers working with him like the low target he sets and the way he sticks pitches.
“The last couple of years I’ve been working very hard on my hands, moving around the plate and targets. That’s just been getting better every year,” Kirk said. “I’m very patient at the plate, but of course it all depends on the situation of the game.”