You know I had to include one of the young guns from the Mariners #1 ranked farm system here. While Emerson Hancock was the Mariners top pitching prospect coming into 2021, George Kirby has since jumped him in the M’s rankings putting them at 3 and 4 respectively. Matt Brash is another interesting name given that the Mariners decided he had shown enough in AA Arkansas to bring him up to the MLB roster for the teams final series.
I’m going with Kirby here for a few reasons. For one, I think he will be the first guy they call up to be a part of the rotation, if he isn’t on the Opening Day roster. While I’ve gone on the record saying I expect the Mariners to round out their rotation in free agency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kirby as a 6th man in the rotation on the Opening Day roster if he shows out in Spring Training like he did in the minors last year.
In addition to his early MLB ETA, his stuff is pretty good too. Heading into the 2021 season MLB Pipeline listed Kirby as having the best control of any pitcher in the minors. He certainly didn’t do anything to shed that label, touting a solid 5.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio between A+ Everett and AA Arkansas in 2021 (compared to 3.3 for Hancock and 2.95 for Brash to give you some context).
Whether he makes a significant impact on the pitching staff this season remains to be seen, but I think there’s little question George Kirby will be making his MLB debut with the Mariners before season’s end, and I for one am excited to see what the kid can do.
With so many young guys absolutely shoving in the minors, the Mariners have set themselves up to be able to pick and choose where to fit different guys in, and who they can use as trade pieces to improve other areas of the roster.
Honorable Mentions: Emerson Hancock, Matt Brash, Brandon Williamson