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Mariners take control specialist RHP George Kirby in 1st round of MLB Draft

For the second straight year, the Seattle Mariners went with a talented pitcher from a small college with their first pick in the MLB Draft.

What the Mariners are saying about the 3 pitchers they drafted on day 1

The Mariners made George Kirby their top pick of the 2019 draft, taking the Elon University right-hander the 20th overall pick. It’s similar to how Seattle opened the draft in 2018 when they took Stetson University right-hander Logan Gilbert in the first round.

Kirby, who is lanky like Gilbert at 6 foot 4 and 201 pounds, is known best for a strong handle on his command. In 88 1/3 innings as a junior this year, he walked just six batters, which looks even more impressive when listed next to the 107 strikeouts he totaled. As a result, Kirby led the nation with a 17.83 strikeouts-to-walk ratio and 0.61 walks per nine innings.

“George is an extreme strike thrower with big velocity,” Mariners director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter said in a press release. “He is a very accomplished college pitcher. He is a strikeout pitcher who controls the zone, as evidence of his strikeout-out-walk ratio this season with Elon. We are extremely excited to add this caliber of a player to our organization.”

Kirby finished 2019 with an 8-2 record, 2.75 ERA and 0.89 WHIP – the last of which ranked 11th in the country – and he won Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year. He took 2019 second team preseason All-America honors from both Baseball America and Perfect Game, and and Baseball America named Kirby as “Best Control” among all pitchers in this year’s draft.

In 2016, Kirby was a 36th round selection of the New York Mets in the MLB Draft out of Rye (N.Y.) High School. He is the second Elon player drafted in as many years by the Mariners, who also took second baseman Ryne Ogren in the 12th round in 2018.

Mariners MLB Draft tracker: Follow every M’s pick in the 2019 draft