Brandon Birdsell – Pic by Texas Tech Baseball
In 2020, I was paying extremely close attention to the San Jacinto North junior college baseball team. The main reason was that Mitchell Parker, a 2018 Cubs draft pick, was on the roster. In following him, I got to know Luke Little, who the Cubs would take that summer in the fourth round. And, I also got to be quite familiar with Brandon Birdsell who would go on to Texas Tech.
Needless to say, when the Cubs selected Birdsell in the fifth round of this year‘s draft, I was extremely excited and that still might be my favorite pick of the draft. The reason I like Birdsell so much is that he’s gone through some adversity. He had Tommy John surgery in high school and he had shoulder issues in college. But he’s come out the other side. He’s got a short arm delivery and what I love most about him is he is just a bulldog on the mound.
Height – 6-foot-2
5th Round Pick, 2022 MLB Draft
Birdsell first came into national prominence in 2016 when he started throwing in the low to mid 90s as a sophomore in high school. Unfortunately, he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. It did not stop him though. He was still one of the most sought after high school players in Texas and decided to go to Texas A&M University.
As a freshman, Birdsell only played in a nine games. He pitched seven innings, struck out eight but had an ERA of 6.43.
Birdsell then found his way to San Jacinto North where he was put in the rotation with Luke Little and Parker. Before the pandemic hit, he got in six games where he threw 29 innings and struck out 45 batters while only walking nine.. That performance got him a ticket back to D1 Texas Tech.
Shoulder issues limited his performance in 2021 as he only threw in eight games, seven in which he started. He got in 35.1 innings and struck out 36. In addition, he had an ERA of 3.06.
When Birdsell came back for his senior season, he was fully healthy and it showed. He started 15 games with a 2.74 ERA. In 85 innings, he struck out 107 batters and was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year.
It was clear that Birdsell was going to be drafted, the question was what round. There were concerns about his shoulder and some publications had him going in the low 80s and others in the early 100s. So there really wasn’t too much variance there, it would come down to a team’s preference.
Here is what MLB Pipeline had to say of his arsenal before the draft
Birdsell’s fastball sits at 94-96 mph and peaks at 99, though its velocity stands out more than its armside run and gets hit when he catches too much of the plate. He misses more bats with his slider, which features good depth in the mid-80s and more cutter action when he throws it in the upper 80s. He doesn’t use his hard upper-80s changeup very often but it’s an effective third offering with significant fade when it’s on.
Birdsell’s career arc is probably going to start in Mesa and then end the year at Myrtle Beach. If he has a good spring, he could start next year in Myrtle Beach or South Bend. However, just based on his college experience and success, South Bend might be the better landing spot. It’s going to happen at some point next year and then his production and performance from there will carry him where he needs to go.
Ideally, I am just happy to have him in the system. I love his attitude. I love his fastball. And I love the fact that the Cubs got him. We’ll see what he and the Cubs can do together.
|2||LHP||Jackson Ferris||IMG Academy|
|3||SS||Christopher Paciolla||Temecula Valley HS|
|4||RHP||Nazier Mule||Passaic County Technical Institute|
|5||RHP||Brandon Birdsell||Texas Tech|
|6||RHP||Will Fritsch||Oregon State|
|7||RHP||Nick Hull||Grand Canyon University|
|8||RHP||Mason McGwire||Capistrano Valley HS|
|9||RHP||Connor Noland||University of Arkansas|
|10||RHP||Brody McCullough||Wingate University|
|11||LHP||Branden Noriega||No affiliation|
|12||RHP||Mathew Peters||Indiana Institute of Technology|
|13||RHP||Luis Rujano||Sunshine State Elite Academy in Kissimmee, FLA|
|14||RHP||Shane Marshall||University of Georgia|
|15||C||Haydn McGeary||Colorado Mesa|
|16||RHP||JP Wheat||Next Level Academy|
|17||OF||Andy Garriola||Old Dominion|
|18||RHP||Garrett Brown||University of Georgia.|
|20||OF||Ke’Shun Collier||Meridian CC|