Nathan Kirby Scouting Report (2014)
Derek Fisher may be out with a broken hamate bone, but the Hoos still boast some of the best talent in the country. Nathan Kirby has blossomed into the ace of the staff, striking out 18 last Friday resulting in a no-hit shutout. Entering the year, Perfect Game ranked him ($) as the 5th best 2015 draft prospect. Collegiate realignment has thrown the Pittsburgh Panthers into the ACC, providing this look at an elite NCAA prospect. At present, the Virginia Cavaliers are the #1 NCAA baseball team in the country.
Nathan Kirby stands 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds with a high waist and long limbs. He has a lean build and will add strength to his frame as he matures, but the projection is only moderate. He looks the part of a pitcher who will remain thin and athletic throughout his career. He has the requisite size to remain a starting pitcher, and his stuff held up well throughout the game — a 121 pitch workload.
The UVA squat is alive and well! As with every pitcher scouted from Virginia (including former #2 overall pick Danny Hultzen), Kirby begins his delivery with a squatting action before positioning his left foot onto the rubber. His delivery has a quick, but steady tempo, and displays body control throughout the pitching motion. Kirby creates forward momentum with his hips during his leg lift and separates between hips and shoulders to generate power. The plant leg can land a bit stiff and restrict him from fully finishing with his lower half. The arm is clean, loose, and fast as he throws from a true 3/4 slot.
The fastball comes out of Nathan Kirby’s hand well and is on top of hitters quickly. It features late, running life and sink, making the pitch difficult to square up. He sat 92-94 through the first half of the game, topping out at 95 MPH in the fourth inning. Kirby maintained plus velocity for a lefty throughout, but saw degradation at the 100 pitch mark. The fastball dipped 90-91 touching 92 late. Hitters did little with the pitch, putting just four of the 66 in play. The movement and velocity make it capable of generating swings and misses, but its primary function is to work ahead in the count and set up the breaking ball.
- Velocity High: 95 MPH
- Velocity Low: 89 MPH
- Velocity Avg: 91.9 MPH
- Count: 66*
- Strike Pct.: 69.7%
- Swinging Strike Pct.: 12.1%
If not for the distinct, spike-fingered grip, the pitch would be mistaken for a slider. Nathan Kirby’s curveball was devastating with tight spin and hard, 2-8 break. It’s a true out pitch delivered on a flat plane before darting down with steep, late depth. Hitters regularly chased the pitch as Kirby buried it in towards the feet of right handed batters. He was able to throw it in the strike zone, but it worked primarily as a chase pitch with two strikes. It lost velocity and consistent sharpness late, but pitch depth allowed it to remain effective.
- Velocity High: 84 MPH
- Velocity Low: 77 MPH
- Velocity Avg: 80.8 MPH
- Count: 29*
- Strike Pct.: 79.3%
- Swinging Strike Pct.: 37.9%
Kirby throws a circle change-up that’s further behind in its development than the fastball and curveball. The change can show well though with late fading and sinking action which mirrors fastball movement. That action is inconsistent with some fading immediately as it leaves his hand and showing little movement. At this level, it’s a fine change of pace pitch and generated multiple empty swings.
- Velocity High: 85 MPH
- Velocity Low: 81 MPH
- Velocity Avg: 82.8 MPH
- Count: 9*
- Strike Pct.: 77.8%
- Swinging Strike Pct.: 23.1%
Command & Control:
Kirby filled the zone with strikes, attacking hitters early in the count with the fastball to set up his curveball as a chase pitch out of the zone. Fastball command was more regional than pinpoint, finding the general desired area rather than the exact location of the mitt. Still, he earned called strikes with fastball movement, bringing the pitch back over the corner. Kirby favored his glove’s side portion of the plate to both right and left-handed batters. Later in the game, his command deteriorated as the left-hander tired. Kirby’s athleticism and easy delivery — as well as any additional strength he adds at physical maturity — will help with command.
Over at Bullpen Banter, my College Notes series included a first look at Nathan Kirby a year ago. He had a rough Freshman season, but the raw talent was apparent. Last Friday, he gave the performance of his career. It was the most dominant start I’ve had the pleasure to watch in person — besting even my look at Dylan Bundy in Single-A. Nathan Kirby looks the part of a future first round pick with two plus pitches, a workable change, and an encouraging command projection.
Nathan Kirby’s Tools:
Tool Present Future Projected Role No. 2 Starting Pitcher Fastball 6 7 Curve Ball 6 7 Change-up 3 5 Control 6 6 Command 4 6
*Please note that this does not constitute every pitch that Kirby threw during the evening. I spent the third inning on the first base side filming (all of these pitches were excluded) and missed a few readings from the remaining innings.
I additionally want to thank John Gonoude of the University of Pittsburgh for granting me access and making this Nathan Kirby scouting report possible.
11 Apr 2014 / Jeff Reese / 2
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