Monday, May 23, 2022

Seattle Mariners call up top pitching prospect George Kirby; righty will start Sunday vs. Rays

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The Seattle Mariners are calling up top pitching prospect George Kirby to start Sunday against the Rays, manager Scott Servais announced Saturday. Chris Flexen, Sunday’s scheduled starter, is being pushed back to Monday. Kirby, a right-hander, is effectively replacing Matt Brash, who was sent to Triple-A earlier this week, in Seattle’s rotation.

Kirby, 24, is a former No. 20 overall pick out of Elon University. This season, he’s been dominant across five starts at the Double-A level, with a 1.82 ERA and 32 strikeouts against five walks in 24 2/3 innings. In parts of three minor-league seasons, Kirby has an ERA of 2.34 with an equally impressive K/BB ratio of 6.40. He’s worked almost exclusively as a starter. 

Coming into the 2022 season, our own R.J. Anderson ranked Kirby as the No. 24 prospect in all of baseball. Here’s what he wrote at the time

Kirby split last season across High- and Double-A, posting a 2.53 ERA and a 5.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s more than a statistical wonder; he’s upped his velocity without sacrificing control (he’s walked fewer than two batters per nine innings as a professional) or the sheer breadth of his arsenal. His combination of stuff and polish should allow him to become the first of a few incoming arms to debut for the Mariners.

The Mariners have positioned themselves as contenders this season. However, after a strong start to 2022 they come into Saturday’s slate having lost five in a row and nine of their last 10. At present the SportsLine Projection System gives the M’s just a 15.9 percent chance of making the newly expanded playoff field for 2022. 

Once he arrives in Seattle, Kirby will join a rotation that ranks 17th in MLB in starters’ ERA and 23rd in starters’ K/BB ratio.

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