EVERETT— The wait to see Seattle’s top draft picks pitch in Everett is finally over.
George Kirby, the Mariners’ first-round pick in the 2019 draft, and Brandon Williamson, the Mariners’ second-round pick, will join the AquaSox’s rotation over the weekend. Williamson will start on Friday and Kirby will follow on Saturday.
Both are expected to pitch two innings or 30 pitches, whichever comes first. Mariners director of player development Andy McKay said both will be capped at about 30 innings before being shut down for the season due to heavy workloads during their college seasons.
Kirby, an Elon University product, was one of the elite strike-throwers in college baseball last season with a Division-I best 17.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The 21-year-old right-hander compiled an 8-2 record and a 2.75 ERA in 14 starts over 88 1/3 innings for the Phoenix. The high inning count is presumably why Kirby’s professional debut was postponed until mid-July.
“I’m really excited,” Kirby said. “It’s been a long couple of weeks of throwing bullpens and stuff, but I can’t wait to take the mound on Saturday. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I threw a live (batting practice) up in Vancouver, eight batters, that went well. I just want to get that same competitive mindset. I’m very excited.”
The same goes for Williamson, as the 6-foot-6 southpaw out of TCU posted a 4-5 record and a 4.19 ERA over 77 1/3 innings pitched this past season. Williamson started his college career at North Iowa Area Community College before joining the Horned Frogs in 2019.
“I’ve been sitting here for over a month now and I’m ready to get going,” Williamson said.
Mariners mum on reason for Moreno suspension
The Herald reported on Wednesday that AquaSox manager Jose Moreno was suspended for one week for an undisclosed reason. McKay declined to comment on what lead to Moreno’s suspension on Thursday.
“It’s a personnel issue and not anything that’s going to be talked about publicly,” McKay said.
AquaSox return home tied for first
After a 5-1 road trip, including a three-game series win at Eugene and a sweep at Vancouver, Everett is tied for first place with Spokane in the Northwest League North division with a 14-12 record heading in Thursday night’s game. The first half of the season ends on July 22. The Northwest League is split into two halves, with the first- and second-half division champions claiming playoff spots.
“It’s just about keeping the same message of that growth mindset and bringing a learning environment to the field each day,” acting manager and Mariners minor-league field coordinator Carson Vitale said. “It sounds cliche, but guys are not giving at-bats away and they’re moving the line for each other and being selfless, and with that team wins come out.”