With the college baseball season moving towards the post-season, the 2019 MLB Draft is right around the corner. Teams prepare their draft boards, and prospects look forward to fulfilling life long dreams. Pitcher George Kirby of Elon University is one of those top prospects that expects to be an early round pick in June.
George Kirby 2019 Draft Profile
Kirby was drafted in the 32nd round out of high school by his home team New York Mets, but he opted to attend Elon and further develop his repertoire and improve his draft stock as a Phoenix.
Now he ranks as the 20th best prospect this season according to MLB.com, and the 6’4″, 200 pound right-handed junior finds himself projected as the first ever first-round draft pick for the Phoenix. Pitcher Steven Hensley is currently the highest player drafted from the school, but he was a fourth-round pick in 2008 and never it to the big leagues in eight professional seasons.
Kirby anchors a strong pitching staff, and he has Elon positioned to make an NCAA Baseball Tournament appearance by virtue of winning the Colonial Athletic Association. Last season, Kirby was awarded Second Team All-CAA honors, and both Baseball America and Perfect Game recognized him as a Second-Team Preseason All-American before this season.
How about the rise of Elon RHP George Kirby this year?
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 28, 2019
As a freshman Kirby struggled when most of his work was out of the bullpen. He limped to a 1-3 record with a 4.84 ERA. As a sophomore, he was moved to the starting rotation, and he performed much better in that role. He compiled a 10-3 record with a 2.89 ERA striking out 96 batters. Following the season, Kirby was selected to participate in the Cape Cod League, where he pitched to a 1.38 ERA.
Kirby is a power pitcher whose fastball tops out at 98 MPH, consistently throwing 90+ MPH without sacrificing command. Additionally, Kirby has struck out 96 batters while only allowing six walks this season. He demonstrated similar control while in the Cape Cop League last summer. In 13 innings of work there, he fanned 24 batters issuing only one free pass.
Kirby also earned the reputation as being a durable pitcher. In the current age of managing by analytics and deploying multiple specialists to finish a game, Kirby is an exception. This season he has tossed three complete games with one being a shutout.
As with most small college players, the initial reaction is to question the level of competition that Kirby has faced. This is a fair question and the CAA does not boast the same level of strength as other conferences.
After taking a closer look at Elon’s schedule, it shows that they have faced some strong competition. The Phoenix have faced off with seven teams that are projected to make the NCAA Tournament. Kirby pitched in one of those contests against Bryant University. He tossed a complete game, one-hitter, striking out 11 batters.
Another knock on Kirby has been that he has not adequately developed a pitch other than his fastball. Scouting reports agree that he has the makings of a four-pitch pitcher, but to this point, he hasn’t been forced to fully develop other pitches. The development of other pitches will likely determine how successful he is as a pro.
Jordan Zimmerman is a good comparison for George Kirby. Kirby’s abilities project him as a long term big league player. Admittedly, he does not project be an ace, but he can solidify the middle of the rotation for years. He has excellent control, but he is not afraid to pitch to contact but can also register big strikeouts. If he can develop additional pitches, he has the ability to exceed expectations for whichever team selects him.
Main photo: Embed from Getty Images