EVERETT — Two pitching pillars the Seattle Mariners hope will be part of the foundation of their rebuild are spending the summer at Funko Field in Everett.
Seattle invested the majority of its capital in the recent Major League Baseball draft on pitching, specifically targeting college-level arms that have the potential to rise through the minor-league system quickly. The Mariners’ first five picks — and seven of their first 10 — were college pitchers.
The two figureheads of that draft strategy — first-round pick George Kirby out of Elon University, and second-round choice Brandon Williamson out of TCU — are starting their professional careers in Everett.
Neither one took the conventional road to becoming a high draft pick.
Kirby was raised in Westchester County, New York, in the shadow of New York City. He was a coveted recruit who elected to attend a small,mid-major school before blossoming into a first-round pick.
Williamson grew up in rural Minnesota — eight miles from the closest town — and was an unknown commodity before eventually working his way to a top power-five program.
It will take careful planning to see either pitch this summer. Kirby and Williamson aren’t scheduled to pitch until mid-July and neither will throw more than 20-30 innings because of their heavy workloads during the college season: Kirby threw 88⅓ innings for the Phoenix, and Williamson threw 77⅓ innings for the Horned Frogs.
Come on the right night, though, and you may catch a glimpse of the future of the Mariners’ pitching staff.
Here’s the route each took to end up in Everett.
The Funko future of the Mariners
“He’s just George Kirby”: The Mariners’ first-round draft pick heads to Everett after a legendary career at Elon University. STORY Brandon Williamson: From unknown to second-round draft pick, this prospect endured a winding road to prominence. STORY