With their second selection in the 2015 MLB draft and the 40th overall pick, the Brewers have selected Nathan Kirby, a left-handed pitcher out of the University of Virginia.
Kirby, a junior in 2015, started off his collegiate career as a reliever, making just two starts in 24 appearances his freshman campaign. He had some struggles with a 6.06 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, but struck out 37 batters while walking 13 over 32.2 innings.
Virginia put Kirby in their rotation his sophomore year and he started seeing a lot more success. Making 18 starts, he had a 2.06 ERA with a sub-0.90 WHIP and 112 strikeouts over 113.1 innings. He also tossed a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts against Pittsburgh on April 5, 2014. That earned him an All American award and put him on the short list for the Golden Spikes award his junior year after being named a unanimous pre-season All American.
Kirby has arguably been even better in 2015, with a 2.28 ERA and a whopping 75 strikeouts in just 59.1 innings. However, he's had some injury troubles and has been out the last few weeks with a strain of his left latissimus dorsi muscle. A lat injury shouldn't be an indicator of future issues, fortunately, so it's likely nothing to worry too much about.
Standing at 6'2" and 185 pounds, Kirby still has a little room where he can potentially fill out. Like many young lefties, Kirby has been knocked for a lack of control. This year, he has a 4.55 BB/9. However, he also has three potential plus pitches, with a low-90s fastball, a changeup and a slider. He can apparently rely a bit too heavily on his slider and needs some work on his motion to clear up inconsistencies. That said, if he can figure that out quickly he's someone many believe can rise fast through a system.
Prior to the college season, Kirby was considered perhaps the best left-handed collegiate pitcher available in this draft and a potential top-10 pick. MLB.com prospect guru Jonathan Mayo had the following to say about him:
"As good as he was last year — and his stuff certainly is good — he kind of profiled more as that advanced college lefty who might be able to move up pretty quickly ... So when the command backed up and the stuff wasn't quite as sharp, the guy who was throwing 94 [mph] in the ninth inning during that no-hitter [against Pittsburgh] didn't show up this year, really. At least not consistently ... So that might cause him to dip maybe a little bit."
Kirby was not drafted out of high school. He was considered unsignable by MLB teams and was so committed to Virginia he declined to take a pre-draft drug test, making him ineligible for the draft.
The 40th overall pick has a slot value of $1,545,400.