blue jays minor league year in review

2021 Year In Review: OF Tanner Kirwer

Jays From the Couch Will Review Seasons Of Many, Hopefully, Most, Of The Toronto Blue Jays Prospects. Not Just The Top Prospects.

 


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Tanner Kirwer

Drafted in the 2017 Draft in the 20th round, Tanner Kirwer spent his 1st professional season as a member of the Bluefield Blue Jays. In 25 games, he batted .224 with 4 doubles, a triple, and a HR while playing all three outfield positions.

 

In 2018, the 22-yr-old joined the Short-Season A-Ball Vancouver Canadians. Kirwer batted .280 with 13 doubles, 6 triples, and 4 HR in 61 games. Kirwer showed off some excellent speed and base-stealing ability by swiping 28 bases in 34 attempts. He reached base at a .351OBP clip walking 16 and striking out 58.

 

The Sherwood, AB., native advanced to Full-Season A-Ball in 2019. It was a character-building season for the over-aged outfielder who made multiple trips to the IL. In 52 games, the outfielder continued to show off his gap power with 5 doubles and a pair of triples while adding one HR. His speed also allowed him to steal 18 bases in 20 attempts while reaching base with a .353OBP.

 

In parts of three minor league seasons, the 6-foot-0 right-handed outfielder had shown the ability to impact the game with his legs, his bat, and his glove. He showed the ability to produce offensive numbers at or slightly above league average by posting wOBA numbers between .307 and .349.

 

Month-By-Month

As a member of the Vancouver Canadians, Tanner Kirwer made his ’21 debut on May 5th with a 2-for-5 game. He stole a base, struck out, and scored a run. This game seemed to set the tone for Kirwer’s 2021 season. He finished May with a .296BA, .457OBP, and .507SLG while stealing 13 bases and hitting 3 doubles and 4 home runs.

 

June wasn’t much different for the 25-yr-old outfielder. He batted .273 with 10 walks and 16 strikeouts for a .346OBP. He stole 12 more bases in 12 attempts while collecting 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 more home runs. His stellar start to the season and maybe the fact he was dominating a league at 2.2yrs above the league average, earned him a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire on June 21st. He struggled in his first taste of AA, going 2-for-18 with a .111BA in his first week. His two hits were a double and a HR. He still showed a solid eye at the plate with 6 walks for a .346OBP and stole two bases in three attempts.

 

His struggles continued in July, where he batted .213 with a .284OBP. Despite a low batting average, Kirwer continued to impact the game with his speed by swiping 8 bases. He did not collect an extra-base hit but he did hit a home run. The league may have figured him out, as he walked just 5 times with 24 strikeouts in 18 games.

 

In 19 games in August, the speedy outfielder had a bounce-back month. He finished with a .254/.361/.437 slash for a .798OPS. He collected 4 doubles and hit 3 HR while adding 7 more stolen bases to his 2021 resume. His walks were back up with 11 and his strikeouts were down with 16. He also scored 17 runs as a force at the top of the Fisher Cats lineup.

 

Kirwer only played 3 games in September. The Fisher Cats lost a week to COVID-19 protocols and Kirwer finished the season on the IL. He played a doubleheader on the 3rd and his final game was on the 4th. He went hitless in those three games, walking twice, striking out 3 times, and stealing one base.

 

 

At the End Of the Day

Vancouver

In 36 games against opponents over 2 yrs younger, the product of Niagara posted an outstanding .407wOBA and 145wRC+. He walked at a 15.9% clip while striking out 19.4K% for a .82BB/K. He posted a career-high .190ISO with a .337BABIP. Fangraphs had his Spd at 8.7 and his wSB at 3.6 while stealing 25 bases with just 2 caught stealing. His .285BA and 6HR were both career-highs. He finished with 6 doubles and a triple.

 

New Hampshire

In 47 games, Tanner Kirwer posted a .208BA with a .324OBP and .333SLG for a .658OPS. His production took a huge hit with the promotion, producing at or slightly below league average with a .303wOBA and 87wRC+. Maybe luck played a part in his declined stats after finishing with a .269BABIP. He posted a .126ISO and both his BB% and K% trended in the wrong direction at 12.8% and 27.1K% respectively. Kirwer collected 5 doubles and 5 HR while stealing 18 more bases.

 

Best Game

Tanner Kirwer had three 3-hit games, one game with 7 total bases, and two games with 6 total bases. In my opinion, his best game was his May 14th performance. In this game, Kirwer went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, a HR, 4RBI, and 2 stolen bases against Spokane. He singled in the 3rd and stole 2nd to put himself into scoring position for Luis De Los Santos who drove Kirwer in and gave the C’s a 2-1 lead. Kirwer was at it again in the 5th with another single and stolen base. Tanner advanced to 3rd on a balk, speed can mess with a pitcher’s head. Tanner Morris singled home Kirwer to retake the lead from Spokane, 3-2. In the 8th, with the score 4-2 in favor of the good guys, Kirwer stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. With the count full, Kirwer sent the 6th pitch of the at-bat over the wall in left CF, 8-2.

 

LHP vs RHP

In half the at-bats, Tanner Kirwer posted a nice .288BA and .447OBP. His power was much better against RHP where he collected 10 doubles and 10HR for a .414SLG versus his .356SLG against LHP. Unfortunately, his batting average suffered against RHP with a .238BA.

 

Clutch or No

With 2-outs and RISP, Tanner Kirwer batted just .222 while collecting a triple and a home run.

 

In the Field

With Vancouver, Tanner split his time in the field pretty evenly with 18GP in RF, 11 games in CF, and 9 games in LF. He saw much more time in LF with the Fisher Cats, playing 23 games in LF and 14 games in RF. He didn’t play any CF in New Hampshire.

 

Kirwer had two outfield assists, both in RF and both as a member of the Canadians.

 

Looking Ahead

Breakout season or just the product of being overaged for the league?

 

I think I’m leaning toward breakout season. This is not to say that Kirwer is now a can’t miss prospect, not at all. However, I do think that Kirwer was given the opportunity to show his abilities and he excelled. Kirwer now has a chance to build off this opportunity as I feel that his numbers give him a chance at more playing time in 2022.

 

Tanner Kirwer is in a position to take regular reps with the New Hampshire Fisher in 2022. He should see his production increase as he becomes more comfortable with the league. I don’t think his skill set translates very well above this level but I do think he has a chance to be a very useful Double-A outfielder with Triple-A 4th outfielder at some point in 2022.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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Ryan Mueller

Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn't cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I'm more right.