Kirby returned from a lat muscle injury to pitch twice in the College World Series, including a two-inning, five-strikeout save in Wednesday's 4-2 win over Vanderbilt. The Brewers picked Kirby 55th overall in Compensation Round A of the Draft, and had been waiting to engage Kirby in negotiations until the end of his college career.
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"If you're on the mound for that moment, it says something about you," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who watched the end of Kirby's outing. Brewers amateur scouting director Ray Montgomery was watching closely, too. Mostly, Montgomery said, he watched because he was rooting for Kirby's success, and he lauded the left-hander's poise throughout the most charged outing of Kirby's career.
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There was also a business aspect to the Brewers' interest in Kirby's comeback; the slot value assigned the 55th overall pick is $1.108 million.
"But I liked [general manager Doug Melvin] comments, that it says something the kid wants to be out there," Counsell said. "That's more important to me. Guys can get hurt whenever they're out there. I'm sure it was a big deal for him, and what competitor passes up that opportunity?"
Montgomery echoed that sentiment, and said the Brewers would give Kirby some time to savor his national title before wrapping up a contract. Kirby will eventually be assigned to a Minor League affiliate to make up some of the innings he missed during a nine-week injury absence.
"No rush in terms of how he gets to those innings," Montgomery said. "But one of the benefits is that he does have room with us and remaining innings to pitch professionally. We'll take it slow.
"I'm just happy for him. That's a big moment in their lives, and to be a part of that is awesome. I thought he really handled himself well out there. And he stayed out the dogpile, too. That was good."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.