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College | Story | 5/5/2019

College Notes: May 4

Jheremy Brown        
Photo: George Kirby (Elon Athletics/Tim Cowie)

College Notes: May 2
| May 3College Player Database | College Player Rankings

Players covered: George Kirby (Elon), Jared Wetherbee (Elon), Ryan Pepiot (Butler).

George Kirby, Elon
While Elon may not be your traditional national powerhouse program, the Phoenix will have three arms come off the board early in this June’s draft in righthander Kyle Brnovich, closer Ty Adcock and Saturday starter George Kirby, who has cemented himself as a first round pick. After his performance Saturday at Hofstra, and the entirety of his performance in 2019, it’s no longer a “will he go in the first?” situation for Kirby but rather wondering how high he will be selected as he continues to establish himself as one of the premier arms in the nation.

Standing at a long and athletic 6-foot-4, 201-pounds, organizations can still dream on what the Rye, New York native could develop into physically as he still offers plenty of projection which is scary given what he’s already showing on the mound. The delivery itself is a simple one with limited moving parts, save from a hip turn at the top, but from his arm action and his release point to his stride and his strike foot, everything was online, and more importantly on time, all components in helping Kirby grow into one of the elite strike throwers in all of college baseball. 

Kirby's command quickly speaks for itself. His lone walk against the Pride brought his season total up to six over 77 2/3 innings, a span in which he has punched out 96, with 12 coming in his most recent start. Kirby’s arm action is both compact through the back and plenty fast working to his release, helping to allow for the plethora of quality strikes, getting ahead in the count with the first pitch 17 times out of his 24 batters faced. 

Opening the game in a drizzle, which persisted over the first handful of frames, Kirby sat at 94-96 mph with his fastball, spotting it with comfort to his glove side and quickly settled into the 90-94 mph range for the next five innings. It’s no stretch of the imagination to see the fastball maintaining the mid-90s over the course of a start as he continues to develop physically, especially when you consider the ease of the entire operation and just how cleanly the ball jumps out of his hand. The life to the fastball remained consistent as well, racking up 13 swings-and-misses with the pitch and only missed his spot a couple of times in his 102 pitches, usually up-and-in on batters. 

The Elon righthander has a counter for hitters who dig in looking to ambush a first-pitch fastball as he showed comfort landing any of his three pitches (fastball, curveball, slider) for strikes to steal strike one. Of the two breaking balls his slider proved to be the most effective, showing plus action in the first up to 86 mph with late and hard tilting life with which he picked up five whiffs, and like his fastball, comfortably spotted low and to his glove side. He would add and subtract with the curveball, showing a get-me-over version with more depth at 76 mph and would also bump it up to 83 mph with tighter 11-5 shape and hard spin. He did show a changeup, albeit once in this look, at 86 mph which resulted in one of his two hits allowed on the day, though it’s often featured and a part of his arsenal to give him a true four-pitch mix. 

When you factor in the results this spring, the physical projection that remains and shear quality of his current arsenal, there’s no doubting Kirby should hear his name called in the opening round and could very well be one of the top arms to come off the board on June 3.

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