Alejandro Kirk’s journey to first career homer is remarkable

Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk shouldn’t even be in the big leagues right now. But he just went 4-4 against the Yankees, including his first home run.

Alejandro Kirk, the 21-year-old rookie catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays, had himself a night on Monday against the New York Yankees that he and his team won’t soon forget.

Kirk, who had never played above Single-A in his professional career prior to nine days ago, went 4-4 in the Blue Jays’ 11-5 win over the Yankees at Sahlen Field in Buffalo. That included his first career double and, leading off the bottom of the seventh inning, his first career home run, a 346-foot shot off Chad Green that just crept over the fence in right field. At the age of 21 and 320 days, Kirk is the youngest catcher to put up those numbers in a game since Shanty Hogan of the Boston Braves on June 21, 1927.

Signed as an 18-year-old out of Mexico in 2016, Kirk is the Blue Jays’ sixth-ranked prospect. In an ordinary season, he would’ve played at Double-A with the hope of reaching Triple-A by the end of the year. The Majors were never supposed to be his destination in 2020. But this is no ordinary year, and Kirk is no ordinary catcher.

He’s listed at 5-foot-8 and 265 pounds. He’s tied with Chadwick Tromp of the Giants and the Padres’ Francisco Mejia for shortest catcher in the league, but he’s also the bulkiest. Kirk’s short but compact stature allows him to generate power with his swing; he’s a career .315 hitter in 518 at-bats in the minors with a .918 OPS.

Kirk began the season at the Blue Jays’ alternate site in Rochester, the catching duties with the big league club being monopolized by Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire. Before his call up on Sept. 12, the last professional game he had played was against the Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League last August.

But when Jansen and McGuire began to struggle, the opportunity for Kirk opened up. Jansen and McGuire are hitting a combined .136 this season with an OPS of .404. The Blue Jays have also tried veteran Caleb Joseph behind the plate. Kirk was making his fourth start at catcher on Monday and came into the game 2-10 on the season.

The Blue Jays have a chance to clinch a playoff spot as early as Tuesday if they beat the Yankees again and receive help from Houston against Seattle. It would be the franchise’s first trip to the postseason in four years. Kirk may not be their catcher when they get there, but he’s making a strong case to be the best the Blue Jays have on their roster. He proved on Monday, at least, that the Blue Jays have found their catcher of the future.

Next: Cole Hamels is done for the season

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