Born: 6/9/1983Bats: Both Throws: Right
Originally, Kirkland was a 30th round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates, out of the Junior College of Southern Idaho. As a draft-follow-evaluate selection, Kirkland did not sign until the spring of 2002, after posting a .374/.438/.613 line in junior college. When the Tigers traded first baseman Randall Simon to the Pirates for Roberto Novoa, Adrian Burnside, and a player to be named later, they knew all along Kirkland was the player coming their way. Because of his late signing date, Kody could not be traded until May of 2003. In his first two professional seasons, Kirkland posted batting averages over .300 with good power potential. The 2004 season was a disaster for Kirkland, who regressed in nearly every aspect of his game, bottoming out with a .236/.276/.401 line. Despite the poor performance with West Michigan in 2004, the Tigers promoted Kody to the Florida State League, where he rebounded to post very solid numbers, taking small steps to fulfilling his enormous potential.
Kody is an impressive physical specimen and a very good athlete. Offensively, Kirkland has the raw potential to be a dominating player, with good power potential, some ability to hit for average, and surprising speed. His pitch recognition abilities are rudimentary at best, and he must make huge strides in this area to remain an effective hitter at the highest levels. His power potential for a potent power-speed combo at third base, makes him a very interesting offensive prospect, but there are still some significant holes to close before he should be counted on to produce over the long haul. Defensively, Kirkland has the range and athleticism to become an elite defender, and was rated the top defensive third baseman in the Florida State League in 2005. He struggles with footwork and accuracy on his throws, but the Tigers are hoping these problems will smooth out with experience. When he rushes plays in the field, he allows his elbow to dip to low and as a result, his throws become wild. Overall, Kirkland has top-notch tools, but he's a ways away from fulfilling his promise. AA should provide a solid barometer for exactly how much progress he has actually made to this juncture.
Performance Year Team AB H 2B HR BB SO AVG OBP SLG 2005
Kirkland has suffered no significant injuries at this point in his career.
After an All-Star season with the L-Tigers, Kody will head to AA-Erie of the Eastern League for the 2006 campaign. Despite his defensive struggles, he will man the hot corner every day for the Seawolves, and will likely hit in the heart of the lineup as well. The friendly confines of Erie's park should provide some added "oomph" to his numbers this season. Kirkland's biggest weakest thus far has been consistency, and taking a step towards finding a balance between great play and horrible play will be a key to his continued progression. Look for Kirkland's power to spike in 2006, and for some minor improvements with respect to leveling of his performance trends. While he will remain at third base this season, if his defense stagnates, he could be destined for an outfield corner in the next couple of years.