2019 MLB Draft: Seattle Mariners take Elon RHP George Kirby
The 2019 MLB Draft is underway and the Mariners have made their first selection of the night.
In the buildup to this year’s draft, rumors had the Mariners pegged to select an infielder out of high school. But rumors are just that—rumors. And like the fate of most rumors, these were debunked tonight.
Not only did the Mariners not draft a prep infielder, but they didn’t select any infielder whatsoever. Instead, a year removed from taking Logan Gilbert with their first selection last year, Seattle added another potential starting rotation piece in Elon University’s George Kirby.
It’s no surprise that Jerry Dipoto and his team of scouts went with Kirby here. Kirby embodies the “Control the Zone” philosophy the Mariners champion to a tee, striking out 107 batters while walking just six(!!!) in 88.1 innings pitched this year. That’s a 17.83 K/BB ratio, which was tops in the country.
Kirby has a four-pitch repertoire that consists of a fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. He’s shown the ability to use all four pitches effectively, though his fastball certainly outshines the rest. Right now, Kirby is sitting in the low-to-mid 90s on the heater but has touched 98. An uptick in consistent velocity should come as Kirby develops at the professional level and fills out a bit more physically, which could boost his overall career outlook.
As his numbers would indicate, control is Kirby’s strongest suit. MLB Pipeline assessed him 60-grade control, the highest of all pitchers in this draft class. While he doesn’t have the highest ceiling of this year’s pitcher class, he may currently be the most polished in the group.
Don’t expect Kirby to initially crack Seattle’s top five prospects, which is a testament to the work Dipoto has done to rebuild the team’s farm system over the last seven months. Last year, Kirby probably slots in as one of the team’s top two or three prospects.
All things considered, it’s a relatively safe pick by the Mariners. This year’s class of pitchers is considered to be rather poor, and Seattle is a little light in the starting pitching department of their farm system, so they needed to strike early if they wanted to address that. They did just that, foregoing several college and prep bats such as Kody Hoese and Tyler Callihan.
This is just the beginning of a busy night for the M’s, who have two more picks in the first night of the MLB Draft at #59 and #76. We’ll have you covered with individual breakdowns of both picks once they’re made.