The NFL Draft is just over two weeks away, but the Mariners also face an important draft late this spring. The team has 4 picks inside the first 3 rounds, which will be critical to continue to build the bullpen.
The MLB Draft will never get the same hype as its contemporaries, but it is the easiest way to add talent to any farm system, including the Mariners. With the team deciding against a traditional 5-7 year rebuild, the franchise is unlikely to find themselves picking inside the Top 5 anytime soon.
The MLB Draft is difficult to peg. There is a lot of bonus pool manipulation meaning sometimes the best player available doesn’t go where they should. It is somewhat similar to the NFL Draft in which more talented players are passed up by certain teams because they need to fill another position.
However, instead of drafting for need, teams may try to save money on one pick to spend on another talented player. For a deeper explanation of bonus pools and other draft oddities, click here.
But with all that underway, let’s get started. In today’s mock draft, the Mariners will own picks 20, 59, 76, and 97. Under the Dipoto camp, Seattle has selected a college player first. Will that trend continue? With the 20th pick of the 2019 MLB Draft, the Seattle Mariners select:
George Kirby RHP, Elon University
So yes, the Mariners do continue their trend of selecting a college player with their first pick. Like last year, they head to a small school down south and pluck one of NCAA best all-around pitching prospect. Last year, this was Logan Gilbert. This time, it is George Kirby.
The 6’3″, 200 lbs right-hander, Kirby has been a solid contributor since day one at EU and is now a star of the CAA conference. He burst onto the scene in 2018, making 15 starts, throwing 90 innings with 96 Ks and just 27 BBs.
Kirby was firmly in the discussion to be a top 5 round pick before heading to the Cape Cod League. There, Kirby hit his stride. Working exclusively as a reliever, Kirby posted a 24:1 K/BB rate in 13 innings. If only we knew a team whose mantra was “control the zone”?
Kirby came back to campus as a fringe first rounder and has done nothing but cement his status in this draft. In his first 7 starts of 2019, Kirby has 53 K’s and just 3 walks in 45 innings. That is a 17.67 K-BB ratio. Simply incredible.
In terms of tools, Kirby’s skill set slide nicely into a #3 starter profile. His low-90’s fastball runs an generates a lot of soft contact. He can hit 97 in shorter stints and can still add strength to his current frame. An extra mph or two on his running fastball could up his profile more, but the pitch is plus already.
Kirby’s best off-speed pitch is his curveball, which flashes plus and is solidly above-average. The curveball is a hard diver, as opposed to the big looping curve. The difference maker is the changeup. It is fringe-average now, but he has shown a good feel for the pitch this year. If he can make the changeup into a solid 3rd offering, he could zoom through the minor leagues.
Scouting Grades (20-80): Fastball- 60 Curveball- 55 Changeup- 50 Command-55 Overall- 55
Kirby will likely only demand slot money, which still leaves Dipoto and Scott Hunter flexibility with their bonus pool if they wish to go that route. Kirby would likely fall into the back half of our Top 10 Prospect Ranks.