Catcher Prospect Spotlight: Alejandro Kirk
Welcome, welcome one and all to the kick-off of The Dynasty Guru’s 2021 Prospect Spotlight series! As we unveil our rankings for the 2021 dynasty season, we will be pairing them with our first-ever prospect rankings. To accompany those rankings, we will be choosing two prospects from every position (one from the top half of the list and one from the bottom half) and putting the spotlight on them. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the prospect’s fantasy profile, highlighting their background, skill set, and what we see for them coming down the pipeline. Prospects are the lifeblood of any dynasty league and we hope to bring you more great info on these rising stars in 2021 than ever before.
And now to our scheduled programming.
There are some budding stars at the top of the catcher prospect list. Adley Rutschman, Joey Bart, Francisco Alvarez. The prospect pool for catchers is more exciting than it has been for a while – at least in terms of potential fantasy production. That said, there is a much more polarizing player who stands out among the crowd that I felt compelled to write up. It seems you either fall in love with his numbers, or you’re a bit more skeptical based on the physical profile. He’s a young wizard with the bat who found his way to the majors at just 21 years old, but his stature is more reminiscent of Pablo Sandoval than J.T. Realmuto. He is the one and only, Alejandro Kirk.
Before we dive into his profile, here’s a little bit of background on the Blue Jays backstop. Kirk was signed as an international free agent in September of 2016 just prior to turning 18 and made his pro debut a year later with a shot of espresso (1 game) in the Gulf Coast League. He’s been a catcher since the day he signed and the reason becomes obvious when we take a look at his build. Kirk is listed at 5’8″ (which might be generous) and 265 pounds. From an athletic standpoint, that type of frame only leaves one or two options defensively and his short stature makes catcher the better fit. Since his first full season as a pro in 2018, Captain-err, Alejandro Kirk has done nothing but hit. The question is, will he continue to do so as a major leaguer? There are two conflicting schools of thought here and we’re going to tackle both.
First, the good news. Statistically speaking, Kirk has been borderline outstanding at the plate. His career batting average in the minors is a whopping .315 while being young for the level at each stop. That is no small feat, my friends. Combined with his minuscule strikeout rates (maxing out at 11.2% in High-A), it’s blatantly obvious that Kirk is a very talented hitter. He has an obvious knack for making good contact, for getting the barrel on the ball. He even held his own during his brief MLB debut in 2020 batting .375 with a home run in 25 PAs with a max exit velocity of 107MPH. An incredible start considering he hadn’t seen an inning above High-A prior to 2020. He’s even surprisingly agile behind the plate for his stature and should be a viable MLB catcher defensively. There is little doubt that there’s plenty to like about Toronto’s newest big league backstop… right now.
The Potentially Less Good
Now, for the cold water. Alejandro Kirk superfans, avert your eyes. We need to talk about the elephant in the room: Kirk’s physical makeup. It is no secret that most humans who are 5’8 and 265 pounds are not professional athletes. It’s not a build that lends itself to physical prowess and requires some outstanding skills in order to make it work — skills that Kirk appears to have, to be fair. Yes, Kirk seems to be making it work so far, but the question is how long can he do that? Father Time comes for us all and anyone who has crossed the threshold of 25-years old knows that it’s a little tougher to maintain our figures once we graduate from those teenage and young adult years. Yes, all good things truly come to an end. The concern from the scouting side is that our friend Mr. Kirk is at risk to have a short career in his current state. As he ages, the athleticism will wane quickly, taking with it things like bat speed and agility down with it. There’s a very real chance that Kirk’s production peaks before he even reaches his mid-20s without some body recomposition. If you’re looking for a similar case from the past, look to our beloved friend Pablo Sandoval. He was tremendous out of the gate from 22 to 24 (146, 96, & 149 wRC+). He started going downhill at 25 (118 wRC+) and was no longer MLB caliber by the time he turned 28 (76 wRC+). It is absolutely possible that Kirk is able to reshape his body and put himself in a better position to have a long MLB career, but as we all know, it gets harder and harder to do that with each passing year.
The other concern is his batted ball profile. Kirk has a tendency to get slappy and hit the ball on the ground the other way… which obviously does not profile well for homerun power. The good news is, he’s shown that he’s strong enough to drive the ball out of the park when he does lift the ball, especially to the pull side. We’ll have to wait and see if he can lift the ball more consistently against top tier pitching. This is much less concerning and easier to fix than his conditioning, in my opinion. More of a nitpick than a true wart on his profile.
Okay, there you have it, a small dissertation on the ups and downs of one Mr. Alejandro Kirk. I hope you’ve enjoyed this prospect spotlight and now feel you’re able to make a more informed decision when deciding whether to roster Mr. Kirk on your dynasty squads.