The tall, lefty closer from the University of Louisville fits a recent Detroit Tigers draft pattern.
In the days under Dave Dombrowski, the Detroit Tigers started drafting college reliever arms that seemly came from conferences like the ACC, SEC, and Big 12. Since 2010, one ACC school stands out in which the Tigers have gone back to several times. The University of Louisville. Under the tutelage of the associate head coach and pitching coach Roger Williams, the Cardinals have had some impressive arms come through.
Jeff Thompson, Chad Green, (2013) Kyle Funkhouser (2016) and Adam Wolf (2018) are all Detroit Tigers’ recent draft picks that once threw in front of fans at Jim Patterson Field. I reference all of this to discuss the Cardinals’ left-handed closer, Michael Kirian, who I think would help the Tigers bullpen either as a fifth-round selection or if he decided to sign as an undrafted pickup.
Michael Kirian hails from New Riegel, Ohio, which is about an hour outside of Toledo. He stands at 6-6, 235 lbs. The athletic Kirian played basketball in high school and was the Ohio Gatorade Player of the year. He features from what I was watching in the two videos based on his grip, a two-seam fastball, and a slurve that has some 1-7 action.
His delivery appears to be a high 3/4 quarters with good deception. His fastball sits at 93 and has touched 95. From what I watched, his fastball had some good downward action, and his command was improving every year since his freshman season and it showed. In a short 2020 season, he only allowed 2 hits in 6.1 innings pitched, striking out 11 and only walking 1. In 2019 as a sophomore, 32 innings pitched, 10 earned runs, 9 walks and he punched out 42. His K per 9 while at Louisville sits at 12.5 and he throws strikes, allowing his defense to play behind him.
From my perspective and you can see it here in the video, the slurve just floats in as a get me over pitch. Against some advanced competition, that could spell some issues.
The consistency on his follow-through after he throws the ball can be sometimes erratic causing him to look off-balance. The development of a third pitch while making his slurve better will help on the next level from what I could see, based on the videos I saw.
Two facts about Michael Kirian that Detroit Tigers fans should know. 1. One of his favorite athletes is former Tigers’ starter Justin Verlander and 2. His favorite team is the Detroit Tigers. While that is just items on a bio page, it is important to remember if you are trying to “recruit” a player to sign with you. With this shorten draft and the lack of power lefties currently in the system, if the Tigers do not draft him in the 5th round, which has some mock drafts projected at, he is right off US-23 just outside of Toledo.
He turned 21 back in February but he could be an arm that could help out in Detroit relatively soon. Kirian’s potential is worth considering.
Thanks to scouting writer James Chipman for assisting me in putting what I saw on video into proper baseball terms. His experience of watching hours prospects live helped me translate what I saw into terms.