George Kirby could be next Seattle Mariners homegrown ace

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 09: The Seattle Mariners' logo is painted in throwback colors for their Sunday day game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on July 9, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 09: The Seattle Mariners' logo is painted in throwback colors for their Sunday day game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on July 9, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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The Seattle Mariners have specific plans once the lockout comes to an end. They are going to be on the lookout for more pitching, hoping to add another impact arm to their rotation before the start of the season. Even though the pitching market may be thin in free agency, there is always a great chance that Trader Jerry will pull off a deal.

While the Mariners clearly need more pitching, they may have another ace on the cusp of reaching the majors. George Kirby could end up exceeding even the loftiest expectations.

Seattle Mariners may have future ace in George Kirby

It is easy to see why there is so much optimism about Kirby. He exploded onto the top prospect scene last year, posting a 2.53 ERA and a 1.079 WHiP in his 67.2 innings, striking out 80 batters with 15 walks. As impressive as those numbers are, his most impressive number in 2021 was one – the number of homers he allowed all last season.

light. More Mariners. Time to retire number 51 - twice

That showing moved Kirby into not just being a consensus top 100 prospect, but someone who is now a consensus top 50 prospect in the game. His four pitch arsenal, which was fronted by a plus fastball and excellent control of the zone, was even better than expected.

Perhaps the biggest improvement came with his changeup. While he was able to sell the offering before and used its sinking action to great effect, it became even more of a weapon in 2021. As Joe Doyle noted on Twitter, Kirby’s change had a 58.8% whiff rate last year; the minor league average is 35.1%. As he not only has that sinking action, but is able to separate his change from the fastball by over 10 MPH, it has the potential to be yet another plus offering in his arsenal.

Chances are, Kirby will start the 2022 season in Double-A. He had just 26 innings at the level last year despite his dominant showing. However, it is not improbable that Kirby can get a look with the Mariners at the end of this season with an eye towards becoming a major piece of the rotation for 2023.

Next. Mariners building sustainable contender. dark

The Seattle Mariners may have their future ace in their farm system. George Kirby is showing the type of stuff that will make him a formidable arm for years to come.