Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 35th round back in 2014 out of Florida’s Flagler College, left-handed pitcher Kyle Bird reached Triple-A Durham for one relief appearance in 2017, spending the rest of the season in the bullpen for Double-A Montgomery. Across both levels, the reliever got into 54 games, logging 74.2 innings and finishing 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA. In that span, he allowed 65 hits (.240 opponents’ batting average) and 30 walks, with 70 strikeouts (8.4 K/9). Armed with four pitches and experienced in getting some length out of his relief outings (232 innings pitched across 142 career appearances), Bird has some middle relief pitchability in his profile along with stereotypical lefty-on-lefty matchup capability.
Listed at 6’2″ and 175 lbs., and already 24 years old (DOB: April 12, 1993), Bird doesn’t have much time left to grow into his body with any considerable weight, and is more or less in his final physical form with velocity and stuff. That said, he could make an impact with the Tampa Bay Rays as soon as 2018 thanks to his steady consistency and ability to throw strikes with his entire arsenal. We saw two of the lefty’s relief appearances in 2017; below, you’ll find our full Kyle Bird scouting report, including game video, tool grades, and notes on future projection.
Kyle Bird, Tampa Bay Rays — 2017 Scouting Report
Dates observed in 2017: July 19; July 21
Kyle Bird Scouting Report — 2017 Game Video
Kyle Bird Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis
Kyle Bird is an interesting case at this point in his career: he’s never started so much as a single game in his professional life, despite having five pitches and the ability to work multiple innings, and yet he’s never really filled out a short-stint, late-inning specialist role either, even as he’s spent much of the last two seasons in the upper minors (and the Arizona Fall League). To that end, you’d figure he may be ticketed for middle relief or swingman duties in 2018 with Triple-A Durham and, at some point, the Tampa Bay Rays, but I figure his handedness and feel for two distinct breaking balls will tempt the Rays to test him as a true lefty specialist at some point. In short, specific stints like that, perhaps Bird’s two-seamer/slider/curve combo will play up and he’ll miss even more left-handed bats. That’s a big and very nuanced adjustment to make, however; it’s perhaps more realistic, at least for 2018, that Kyle Bird will reach the big leagues as a low-leverage middle reliever with multi-inning capabilities.
Kyle Bird Scouting Report — Future Projection
As big league bullpens continue to carve out highly specific roles in middle and late innings, perhaps there’s a future home for Kyle Bird as a piggy-back reliever of sorts. Not in an explicit piggy-back rotation system, per se, but more as a close-game middle relief bridge for when a starter gets chased early and the club needs a multi-inning reliever with some chops before settling into their typical 7th/8th/9th inning high-leverage relievers. Bird’s deep arsenal and extensive multi-inning experience will help him, and in a best-case scenario, he could become a middle-inning fireman to help get the ball to late-inning relievers while occasionally facing a lineup more than once, and occasionally working as a lefty specialist. He’s probably spend the bulk of 2018 at Triple-A Durham, but based on his track record and arsenal, he’ll likely make sort of impact on the Tampa Bay Rays by the end of next summer. Considering that, and what’s he’s done so far, it’s not a bad story for a guy initially taken in the 35th round more than three years ago.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Middle inning (6th/7th) bullpen role with LHH match-up capability; enough in arsenal to be a multi-inning long man (45)
MLB ETA: 2018