Q&A With Rays 14th Round Pick Chris Kirsch

LHP Chris Kirsch is used to hearing his name called on draft day, having been drafted out of high school in 2010 in the 13th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates and again last year by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 21st round. Drafted in the 14th round this year by the Rays, will the third time be a charm for Kirsch to start his pro career? The Lackawanna College lefty discusses that and more inside.

School: Lackawanna College
Born: 11/15/1991
B/T: L/L
HT/WT: 6-4/200

• Ranked No. 316 in Baseball America's Top 500 overall, No. 36 overall left-handed pitcher and No. 3 prospect out of Pennsylvania.

• In 2012, went 10-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 70 innings pitched while tallying 101 strikeouts and 35 walks in his second season with Lackawanna College, helping them set a school record for wins in a season with 47.

• In high school, was named All-Delco as a senior, going 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA (38.1-IP, 6-ER) and 58 SO in 8 apps for Central League champion Marple Newtown (Penn.) HS.

• Previously drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th round of the 2010 June Draft and again following his first year at Lackawanna by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 21st round of the 2011 June Draft.

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Rays Digest: You getting drafted is not a new experience for you. You were drafted out of high school by the Pirates and then again last year by the Cardinals. Can you tell me how this time was different?

Chris Kirsch: I would compare it more to the first time I was drafted, when I was really excited, and I was out if high school, because last year I had a bad year at school and I definitely wanted to come back to school this year.

Rays Digest: Yeah I had read that in 2011 you were pitching in a game and it was really cold and you developed some soreness in your arm and your velocity dropped because of it.

Chris Kirsch: Yeah I had some tenderness in my elbow.

Rays Digest: You decided not to sign with the Pirates or Cardinals, so I guess the million dollar question is: Is the third time a charm for you?

Chris Kirsch: I'm hoping so, I want to get out and play. It's always been my dream to play professional baseball. The past two times haven't felt right and I wasn't ready to go, but now I feel like I am.

Rays Digest: You had said that there was a disparity in what you were looking for as far as a signing bonus the last time around. Now with there being assigned slot amounts and penalties and stuff, is that going to make it a little more difficult to negotiate this time?

Chris Kirsch: It will have an effect on it. They're going to come follow me this summer when I go to Myrtle Beach to pitch and they're going to decide what's going to happen from there.

Rays Digest: Could you tell me a little bit about yourself as a pitcher? What kinds of pitches do you throw and what is your approach on the mound?

Chris Kirsch: I throw a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a curveball, a cutter and a changeup. My approach is to just go after the hitters one-by-one.

Rays Digest: So you just go right after guys and try to stay around the plate and throw strikes?

Chris Kirsch: I try to, but it doesn't always happen as I imagine it to.

Rays Digest: You had a really good season this year for Lackawanna, you struck out 101 hitters in 70 innings and went 10-1 and then you guys went on to the NCJAA Division II World Series. Can you tell me a little bit about the success you enjoyed this year?

Chris Kirsch: Every year at our school, every group of players turns into a family. We put a lot of hard work into the season. That's where we were this year, we never gave up and we were a family and we kept fighting until the end.

Rays Digest: The Rays are well-known as an organization that is really good at developing pitchers. Is that something that appeals to you about the Rays and something that you'll take into consideration when deciding whether to sign or not?

Chris Kirsch: Yes, very much. It really helps add to me signing.

Rays Digest: Had you any contact with the Rays before the draft? Did you have any kind of sense that they were going to draft you? Had you talked to any of there scouts or anything?

Chris Kirsch: They came to my games this year, like a lot of other teams. They called me a lot and I was invited to a workout, but I couldn't go because of the World Series. I got calls during the day in like the sixth and seventh rounds from other teams. So it caught me kind of by surprise.

Rays Digest: You have a commitment to VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University), what was your reasoning for choosing to transfer there from Lackawanna?

Chris Kirsch: A couple of my teammates are going there and it's helped me feel comfortable going down there. That was actually the last college I visited, I visited Maryland, Penn State and Virginia too. When I got there, right away I fell in love with the place. After being up in the cold, I wanted to go somewhere a little more south. So that was the place to go.



John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.

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