Once you get into the lower levels of the draft, you are taking quite a few projects. These players have potential, but for some reason there is a ton of work to be done and therefore they fall in draft. The Tampa Bay Rays took one of these projects in the 35th round with left-handeder Kyle Bird from Division II Flagler College.
Bird showed potential as a high schooler, having a 6’2”, 185 pound frame and signing with Florida State University. However, he has done little to improve since going to college. In two years at FSU, he would put up ERAs of 7.15 and 6.10 while walking almost a batter per inning. He then transferred to Flagler hoping to improve by playing more often. But in Flagler’s rotation, he would still post a disappointing 5.00 ERA, though his walk numbers would improve dramatically. Statistically, it is clear that Bird has been disappointing in college.
From a stuff standpoint, Bird’s fastball sits in the mid-upper 80’s. He will also throw a low 70’s changeup and a low 70’s curveball. At 6’2”, 190 pounds one would think there is some projection in his frame. But, he did little to add muscle during college, and he isn’t likely to add much velocity as a pro. To be a good pitcher with his stuff, he is going to need to learn how to create a better downward angle and deception on his pitches, as well has how to command his pitches better. That is where the “project” label comes in. The Rays are going to have to work hard to with Bird to fix his issues. But, they do love lefties, and the Rays are one of the best in the business at developing pitchers.
As a 35th rounder, the odds are against Kyle Bird from the beginning. But if there is anyone that can harness the potential he showed back in high school, it is the Rays.