It wasn’t in a swanky conference room at T-Mobile Park, nor in front of camera flashes at a high-profile press conference where the Seattle Mariners obtained the signatures of their two golden arms from the 2019 Major League Baseball draft.
Instead, right-handed pitcher George Kirby, Seattle’s first-round pick, and southpaw Brandon Williamson, the Mariners’ second-round pick, signed their contracts together in the training room of Everett Memorial Stadium, just about 10 minutes before the team took to Funko Field for practice on Thursday.
The two pitchers arrived in Seattle on Wednesday for physicals and arrived in Everett later that night. Despite a hectic couple of days, both of their first impressions of Snohomish County and the Pacific Northwest were glowing.
“I love it here,” Williamson said. “The weather is awesome. The team, so far, is fun to be around. It just feels like another day at the ballyard. Nothing different. I’m looking forward to it.”
“The field is nice in my first look at it,” Kirby added. “Overall, I’m pretty happy to be here. It’s a good spot and a good league.”
The AquaSox will depart Friday morning for their season-opener at Tri-City.
Both Kirby and Williamson said they haven’t been debriefed in the specifics of how they’ll be utilized in Everett, but both will likely be put under diligent pitch counts and innings limits after their college seasons — Kirby threw 88 1/3 innings for Elon and Williamson tossed 77 1/3 frames for TCU. Kirby estimated that he won’t eclipse more than 15 or 20 innings while pitching for the AquaSox. Both were confident they wouldn’t take the mound during a game for about a week or two.
Kirby, a right-handed pitcher, was considered by pundits as one of the best command pitchers in the draft after posting a 17.38-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his senior season, leading Division-I baseball. His four-pitch mix features a 60-grade four-seam fastball on the 20-80 scouting scale that can reach 98 mph with plus-command.
At 6-foot-6 and with a low-to-mid 90s fastball from the left side, Williamson isn’t considered as refined as Kirby, but comes with considerable untapped potential, according to MLB Pipeline’s scouting report. He posted a 4.19 ERA over his 77-plus innings pitched for TCU while striking out 10.4 batters per nine.