Tempering Expectations for VirginiaU2019

Of the pitchers expected to be selected in the first round of the years draft,Virginia lefthanderNate Kirby is among the safer bets to stay a starter like a profe sional. But despite a Akeem Hunt Jersey clear profile, his limited upsiderestrains my enthusiasm once we head on the home stretch from the college baseball schedule.

Now that a recent lat strain will likely end his season (barring an unexpected run to the school World Series), this is as good of a time as any for taking stock of his future. I sawKirby for his first start of the season on Feb. 13 at East Carolina, which drew about 30 talent evaluators despite a game-time temperature that hovered around the freezing point. Scouts were prepared to give him the advantage of the doubt such anunfavorablepitching climate, but he didnt need it on that day, to sing seven shutout innings having a low-90s fastball that touched 94 and a changeup that flashed plus. Since then, he's performed consistently in terms of stuff, but his command has come and gone from start to start, and sometimes from inning to inning.

As a decorated recruit from high school (who intentionally made himself ineligible for that 2012 draft by not participating in MLBs required medical and drug programs), Kirby has been on scouts radars for a long time, and since his months are probably over, theres nothing morehe can perform to boost his profile. He currently ranks No. 16 in Kileys most recent 2015 MLB Draft rankings, which was only 6,124 words and didnt even include the zodiac-based future makeup grades thateveryone really was hoping for.

Kileys background with Kirby:

I first saw Kirby last spring in Miami and that he was excellent as a solid draft follow, sitting 90-94 mph having a slightly above average slider and changeup and a few size and feel in the left side. His velo was down a tick using their company outings last spring, including his dominating end towards the year and his command came and went, but a lot of elements have there been. After i saw him a couple weeks ago, it had been more of the same, but that becomes disappointing within the harsh light of the draft year after i saw him, once again, just okay after he was excellent early in the season. Kirby sat 91-94 mph in the first having a 55 or 60 slider at 84-86 mph and it was locating well.

By the time he integrated his changeup (that was a 55 pitch sometimes) the second time through the lineup, his command had backed up a little, his slider was more 50 to 55 at 82-83 mph, it seemed to be bleeding right into a softer curveball at 79-81 mph and the velocity slipped to 88-92 mph. This middle and late innings form of Kirby was solid average stuff with fringy command, that is more what he was like in the weeks before Devin Unga Jersey he got hurt. Theres some funk to his delivery, but his arm is easy for hitters to follow, then when the stuff is nearer to average, bottom from the order college hitters could make hard contact.When he's three above average to plus pitchesand average command, hes a top 5-10 pick, but this version, likely the last scouts see before draft day, is a mid-to-late first rounder when you include the injury uncertainty.

Note: The first game in the video is from Kirbys 4/10 start at Georgia Tech that I scouted, the 2nd game may be the ECU game early this year that Je se scouted and the third game is really a 2014 start at Miami which i scouted. Kiley

Physical Description:

Kirby has a solid pitchers frame that looks denser than his listed weight and height of 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. Having a low waist and shoulders which are more sloped than squared, he doesn Emmett Cleary Jersey t have the athletic, tapered-off build thats conducive for lean-muscle gain, but theres still room for adding natural strength. He's fair agility and athleticism with sufficient loosene s to reshape pitching actions as nece sary.


Kirbys fastball typically settles in at 90-92 mph and may reach as high as 95 with solid plane, arm-side run and minimal sink, although he struggles with the pitchs command at times, which is as a result of repeatability i sue that I attempt to explain later. His bestoffspeed pitch is his changeup, whichhesucce sfully commandedto both sides from the plate at 84-86 mph within my only look. Like a sophomore, the caliber of the pitch lagged behind his slider, but thats no longer the situation. Kirby throws it with nearly exactly the same arm speed as his fastball, generating solid tumble and late fade to induce lots of weak contact and empty swings.Its hisprimary weapon against righthanded hitters, but his ability to spot the pitch to his glove side causes it to be effective against lefthanded hitters too. Given the frigid conditions at ECU, the feeling he showed for the pitch was downright impre sive and wheedled the next plus grade from me.

His biggestweakne s is an inability to consistently spin his slider and curveball. Even though the slider has flashed above-average previously, it didnt bite for him regularly from the Pirates, comingin at 81-84 mph with solid vertical depth but typically lacking the late action it'll need to overlook the bats of profe sional hitters. He's similardifficulty together with his curveball that ranges between 79-81 mph,asit often takesloopy flights towards the plate as a result of not staying over it. In my look, he tried on the extender more sparingly compared to slider and made it clear it had become the Jonathan Casillas Jersey pitch he was least comfortable throwing.


Kirbys a quick worker having a minimal-effort,simple deliverythat allowshim to keep velocity deep into later innings. He begins his motion by bending 2 or 3 inches at the knees,a timing mechanism thatsa trademarkof the Virginia pitching program. He then lowers his glove from his chest to his belt,loading his arm having a slightly bentelbow before arriving at his mid-three-quarters release point. He finishes with stability in the glove-side plant foot, getting good leverage and extension via his long stride toward the plate. Theres some light recoil when he throws his fastball, which is the consequence of using just a bit more effort than he does for his offspeed pitches.

The aforementioned spotty fastball command can be traced to amechanical flawthat inhibits repeatability. As he throws his fastball, he strides forcefully and maybe too far down the mound (when compared with when he throws his secondary pitches). In turn, hisplant leg stiffens up and popson landing,causing morevariance in his release point than the usual softer landing allows.

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With a good four-pitch mix, relatively sound delivery and anadvanced understanding of the pitching proce s,Kirby offers as clean of astarters profile because you will get in this years draft cla s and regardle s of the lat strainseems like a safe bet for theback 1 / 2 of the very first round.The lack of premium velocity along with a true wipeout pitch cap his upside, buthis present stuff andoverallpolish elevate his floor and really should help him move quicklythrough the low minors.Improving command will behis first action step as a pro,and once thathappens, hellhave achance to cement himself in the back end of the major league rotation.

Fastball: 50/55, Slider: 40/50+, Curveball: 40/50, Changeup: 50/60, Command: 40/50, FV: 55

One final programming note:

Virginias Josh Sborz a 6-foot-3, 225-pound righthander who had spent most of his sophomore year within the rotation before transitioning to the closers role this seasonshut the doorway within the ninth inning ofKirbys Feb. 13 startwith a 91-93 mph fastball that touched 94 and an 84-86 mph slider that showed above-average potential. He hasbeen a steadying force at the rear of the Wahoos bullpen all season, to sing 32 inningsand allowing just 16 hits with 11 walks, 30 strikeouts for 12 saves and a 2.25 ERA so far. A hopeful team can always believe thathis stuff andUbaldoJimenez-like delivery will have in aprofe sional rotation,but evenfor teams who believehes a reliever long-term,his talentandtrack record of performancebelong within the 3rd-5th rounds.