Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: June 9, 1987
Brian Kirwan was selected by the Twins in the 11th round of the 2005 draft, but was originally slotted as a top-10 draft choice. A knee injury during football season would force him to miss most of his senior season of baseball, but the Twins still felt that he was one of the best pitchers in the state of California. The 6'4'' right-hander had a verbal agreement with UCLA, but the Twins were able to sign him and lure him away from playing college baseball.
Kirwan played his high school ball at Santa Fe Christian High School, and he was able to come back and pitch in six games for his high school team after the injury. He pitched a complete game in the championship game of the Division IV CIF, helping the school to their first-ever title. He originally was leaning heavily towards going to college, but luckily for the Twins, he is now in their system.
The Twins would go on to pay for his first half-year of college at UCLA, and the extra time away from sports would allow the young righty's knee to heal. The academic-only program lasted until the Minor League camp had already started, so Kirwan was not amongst the rest of the players.
During high school, Kirwan was rated as the 17th best right-handed pitching prospect in the nation by TeamOne and Rivals.com, and was ranked the 79th best prospect in the nation by Baseball America.
If he is anything like he was before his injury, then the Twins definitely got themselves a steal in the 2005 draft.
He was originally assigned to the Elizabethton Twins, and had an up-and-down year for the team. He showed flashes of brilliance at some points of the season, and at others, he appeared overwhelmed. He finished the year with a 5.63 earned run average in 13 starts, posting a 5-5 record. The Twins are hoping for more consistency from Kirwan next season.
Repertoire.Fastball, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball. Kirwan has a nice fastball, and it is something that is only going to get better as he fully recovers from such a serious knee injury. Once back to normal, Kirwan has the ability to crank that heater up in the mid-90s range, and he has been known to have pinpoint control with it. He was one of the hardest throwing players in the California Area Code Games, and he should be able to get a few more notches on it as he develops into his 6'4'' frame.
Other Pitches. Kirwan's curveball has the ability to be lethal, and if he can perfect the pitch, then he should have one of the better deuces in the Twins organization. He also throws a changeup, and some believe that his three pitches are some of the best amongst the younger pitchers in the organization. If he can throw his curveball for strikes on a consistent basis, then he will have the repertoire to really start progressing throughout the organization.
Pitching. Kirwan has the ability to become a great pitcher, but he is still very young, and very raw. Coming back from an injury like he suffered is hard for anybody, let alone a player who is fighting to get to the Major Leagues. One thing about him is his ability to compete, and his confidence in some tough situations. His teammates have called him a bulldog, and they feel very comfortable with him on the mound. If he attacks baseball like he attacked getting back from his injury, then he should have quite the career.
Projection.Kirwan projects as a starting pitcher, and he is only going to get better with age. The 2006 season was his first season of professional baseball, and at some points, he was able to show why some people considered him a top-10 draft selection before his injury. He has the maturity needed to be a starting pitcher as well, and has the uncanny ability to turn bad situations into good ones. I look for him to be a top starter in the Midwest League in 2007.
ETA. 2011. It will be a long time before Kirwan makes his debut in Minnesota, but I feel he is a player that is definitely going to get there. He has the drive to be the best pitcher he can be, and his pedigree speaks for itself. He should get his first taste of full-season baseball in 2007, and it will be interesting to see how the knee holds up for him. If he can stay healthy throughout the season, then it will be a sigh of relief for Twins brass. I look for him to make a steady climb through the organization, and reach the Major Leagues as a 24-year old in 2011.