George Kirby Looks Familiar To Mariners
The Mariners love preaching about controlling the strike zone, but righthander George Kirby takes that mantra to a whole new level.
Drafted 20th overall out of Elon, Kirby struck out nearly 18 batters for every walk he issued as a college junior. He totaled 107 strikeouts and six walks in 88.1 innings. What’s so ridiculous about that was no other pitcher, at any NCAA level, was really even close to Kirby's strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"It kind of punches you in the face when you look at it,” scouting director Scott Hunter said. "You have to ask if it’s real.”
In other words, is Kirby's strike-zone dominance a fun bar trivia stat, or is his approach truly transferable to pro ball?
"With all the technology and all the analysis and video stuff we have, it is,” Hunter said. "I don’t think there’s anybody in the country who has sniffed his strikeout-to-walk rate and it’s something we really value here.”
But what most attracted the Mariners is how similarly Kirby profiled to their 2018 first-round pick, Logan Gilbert, who in less than a year has worked his way from Stetson to high Class A Modesto. Gilbert caught the Mariners’ eye during a successful run through the Cape Cod League, and Kirby struck out 24 batters with one walk in 13 innings there last summer, albeit as a reliever.
Kirby, who is from Rye, N.Y., is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. Both he and Gilbert are the highest drafted players ever out of their college programs. Kirby has a four-pitch mix with a fastball that consistently hits 95 mph. His curveball and slider tend to mesh together, Hunter said, while he's still perfecting his changeup.
"I don’t want to say George Kirby is the same as Logan Gilbert," Hunter said, "but some of our information and data points to that. Not only with scouting, but using technology, there were a lot of comparisons to Logan.”
And Kirby doesn’t mind that.
"I’m super excited. I think my pitch mix works well and I’m ready to compete against the best guys,” Kirby said. "This is something I’ve been working toward for a long time.”