Patrick Kivlehan in the Arizona Fall League
Eyes slideways, kiddies


If you're not super gung-ho about the minors, you might not be familiar with Patrick Kivlehan's story:

Age Remark Slash Line
18, 19, 20, 21 Football player only  
22 Tried out for NCAA team .390/.480/.700
23 Class A+ minors ball (High Desert) .320/.380/.530
24 AA high minor leagues ("nearly" MLB) .300/.380/.485


I don't even know how to comment on the above situation.  

Here is an article about his "tryout" with Rutgers baseball.  They thought Kivlehan could help with pinch-running, because of his football speed -- exactly as if the Mariners brought on Ricardo Lockette.  Kivlehan's walk-on resulted in his becoming the Big East Player of the Year.  Let me read that sentence again.

Supposing Lockette pinch-ran for a couple games, then picked up a bat and simply hit like Mike Trout, winning the league MVP?  

You'd run a DNA check.  Maybe the Andromedans have a triple helix.


The only thing that even begins to help me process this situation, anyway, is Bo Jackson's baseball career.  Bo was a star in the NFL, and he decided to play baseball, calling it a "hobby" for his off-season NFL time.  Seriously, he shut up critics by saying he was entitled to a "hobby" just like everybody else, and simply stepped into the major leagues as a quality center / left fielder.  (Granted, he had 184 AB's minors warmup.)

We'll say, by the way, that Bo Jackson didn't really have MLB-quality strike zone recog, or MLB hand-eye coordination.  He just had blurry-fast hands, just used a See Ball Hit Ball approach, and somehow his talent simply transcended baseball.  ... Most of his damage came on average fastballs, anywhere in the zone (like Vlad Guerrero, in the sense that Vlad didn't care about pitch location).  Bo's lack of refinement didn't help pitchers much.


If it were Dr. D, he might be thinking of Patrick Kivlehan as a center fielder, like Bo was (or would have been, if not for Willie Wilson).  Whatever; he's also a natural, graceful third baseman (and therefore first baseman).


Here is a video on him.  The swing is almost mystifyingly ballplayer-like, compact, and clean, though he carries his weight rather high.  For a player in his template, Dr. D /cosigns that swing As Is.  With gusto.  Tons of power with very little load.


He had 101 RBI last year and (of course he is) he's off to a big start in the AFL this year.  You can still watch baseball this month, you know.  The AFL website is robust and has GameDay, with Pitch F/X.

Though some analysts pooh-pooh the AFL, or at least the results from it, Dr. D doesn't.  It's a select league, a type of semi-All-Star league, and you can certainly tell that the Mariners' eyes are WIIIIIIDDDDDE open about Mr. Kivlehan.

Go back to 2005, for example, and the batting leaders out of the AFL included:

  • Stephen Drew
  • Andre Ethier
  • Kendrys Morales
  • Matt Kemp 
  • Howie Kendrick
  • Nick Markakis
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  • Billy Butler
  • Denard Span

Slugging .550 in the AFL does not mean "that guy is going to be a star."  It really doesn't.  But if you have a special talent, a big result in the AFL is a perfectly legit way to recognize him.

Kivlehan's first 21 at-bats, for what it's worth, he's .240/.360/.570 with 3 walks and 2 BB's.  Here is the AFL stat page.  We're not using the AFL to discover Patrick Kivlehan, you understand.  It's the only baseball you can watch right now, right? ...


Even if you don't follow the minors much, you'll enjoy this rundown of the Mariners' top 20 minor leaguers.  The list is really shaken up this year.  Patrick Kivlehan is #6, and he's only that low because the M's have guys like D.J. Peterson and Alex Jackson (high 1st rounders) and Austin Wilson (the guy nabbed after Jackson) in front of him.


All that was a preamble.  Here's what we wanted to get to, the real live element of Tomorrow's News Today in the Mariner blog-o-sphere, that being Gordon's prophecies on minor leaguers.

Here is an old Gordon Gross comment on Patrick Kivlehan, this done two (2) years ago, at Spec's MarinerStalk.  Right after his single college season combined with his partial season at Everett.  Take it as a sample of the way Gordon has banged a spoon on a pie plate for Kivlehan throughout.


His HBP isn't random, and his low walk rate isn't permanent.  HBP is, oftentimes, a product of where you stand on the plate. Kivlehan basically dares pitchers to throw inside, because he simply doesn't care about getting hit with a baseball. He was on special teams at Rutgers, flying downhill at 100 MPH to slam his body against other behemoths like a crash test dummy - what's a little fastball in the ribs compared to that?

And Kivlehan's walks-to-Ks by month:

June - 0:17 (58 PAs)
July - 6:36 (123 PAs)
August - 13:38 (131 PAs)

I believe Kivlehan had ONE lonely, solitary walk against his first 35 Ks. If my memory is correct, that would put him at 18 walks against his last 56 Ks, or a batting eye of .33. Not the worst thing in the world for a guy who a year before hadn't so much as touched a bat in half a decade.

The thing to watch with Kivlehan is progress, not his raw statline. Treat him like a 17 year old from the Dominican instead of a college senior and it'll be easier to understand his numbers. He's basically Gabby Guerrero experience-wise, except he's fully grown into his Real Man body. Which makes his winning the NWL MVP to follow his Big East POY award really impressive.

He scared people in the Northwest league. Yes, the Ks are a problem, and while his walks climbed his Ks did not drop. He won't walk like Jim Thome to offset those huge K rates. But the guy has a gorgeous power swing and sinks his weight into the ground beautifully. In that it IS like a righty version of a Thome swing from when he was young. And while his Ks will probably remain high, nothing says they have to be THAT high. He's had 3 months with a wood bat, following 3 months with a composite bat, following... nothing whatsover since he was a teen. He's making it up as he goes against professional pitchers and college grads who have been facing well-prepared hitters for years.

If this is his rearguard action, how much better might he get with a thousand ABs under his belt to see some pitches and fully harness his beautiful swing? THAT is why some of us love him so much: he has nearly unlimited potential as a power bat, and we have so few power bats that it's hard not to smile when seeing one in the system.

He runs like the wind (or maybe like a charging bison, but he's hella fast), so an outfield slot is something that should give him plus range on a corner. His ISO was .200+. He had a very high BABIP, but part of that is because he hits the ball so HARD.

Bo Jackson had a .25 batting eye and a 32% K rate, but he did okay. Physical freaks are weird like that.

I'm truly looking forward to seeing 450+ at-bats from Kivlehan in a full-season league, and seeing what he can do with them. Maybe it'll prove out that he can't hit a curve, or his batting average plummets, or he loses his power, or his eyes fall out, or he gets a flesh-eating disease.

Or maybe he's just an older version of Bubba Starling, and when he gets to the bigs he might be that corner power threat we've been looking for.

Not enough information yet. Let's get some more, starting next month. :-)


- See more at:


Remember, now, the Mariners were the team that was most open-minded about Patrick Kivlehan.  Good on them.





Kivlehan gets a chance to impress folks during ST and is on a Seager type fast-track to Seattle.
We need RH bats, he happens to have a pretty impressive one.  
Doc, his swing is "old-school."  I love it.  Short, two handed follow-through, without the "kick-starts" so common in modern swings.
Really, if the M's just said out of ST, "He's our LF or RF or 1B!" I would have little problem with it.  Oh, he would hiccup like any rookie...but I'm convinced he would figure it out fast.  
Actually the M's could bet that either he or Deej is MLB ready by game 30 and just go for one RH bat in FA or trade.....and they would probably be right.  Two bats 'fer one in that way...and the 2nd one essentially free.
Gordon convinced me a long time ago, aided by whatever video I could find, that Kivlehan is very real.  I think he's very ready.  And he's ours. 
Bob Horner, Doc...remember him?  Short and simple to the ball (and probably not quite the "athlete" that Kivlehan is...although I hate using that term like that)....and not a MiLB game between college and Atlanta.  He did fine.


House keeping first. Intro: Been a long time lurker, going back to the days. Even spent a lot of time on the forum at the P-I.
This topic finally got me to post because I've been fascinated with Kivlehan since the M's drafted him. I was the guy who asked Mayo at MLB Pipeline about Kivlehan, and that got posted in his write up last week. I think there's an inherent bias when someone immediately succeeds at something you failed at, while you were working your butt off. As scouts tend to be former players, I have to wonder if there was a "You just wait till he faces REAL competition" attitudes with Kivlehan. Well he has. And his AA ball stats show he's legit.
I either read an article or watched an interview with Kivlehan (Jackson Generals Broadcaster Chris Harris does fantastic interviews, btw) where Kivlehan credits his football career as preparing him with the work ethic/approach to his baseball achievements. He almost hints at that baseball athleticism is easy from a football athlete's perspective. Which leads me to contemplate maybe he's just a stud, and if it were hockey, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, whatever - he would challenge to be a starter. Of course that didn't work for him in football. But there might be something to his motor learning abilities that allows him to progress faster?
His first week in AA-Ball - .125/.267/.125
Second week in AA-Ball - ..269/.355/.500
He never looked back after that. He had a couple of dry spells, but managed to maintain the free passes during those periods. The only blemish is that he limped through the final 2 weeks of the AA-Ball season, but some of that could have been due to BABIP woes.
I use to hate the super-jock athletes growing up because I had to work hard at the sports I played, while they just seemed naturally gifted to move in ways most of us cannot. It could be Kivlehan is that jock. And as Moe pointed out, he's our jock.


Yep, that "you just wait till he sees real comp" problem is as old as the pyramids.  Guys who have paid their dues get real jealous, real fast, over guys who don't have to.


That's another guy who fell out of bed to OPS+ 125, and ... never really got any better.  His age-arc was totally flat horizontal, and there's nothing wrong with that.
He hit 125 as a rookie, 125 in year 8, and 125 every year in between.  To me, that's a fascinating type of ballplayer.  Suspect Kivlehan will be one of those.  (If everything breaks right) I see him as Bob Horner, as opposed to Ryan Howard.

GLS's picture

From the M's top 20 prospect list on seven to make how many?
1) Alex Jackson
2) DJ Peterson
3) Gabriel Guerrero
4) Austin Wilson
6) Patrick Kivlehan
7) Gareth Morgan
10) Tyler Marlette
I'm not sure how much I trust prospect lists these days, but it's still interesting to see how these guys line up. You have to figure that at least one of these guys will turn into an impact player.


I'm on hold on guys like Jackson (Ariz. rookie ball), Guerrero (High Desert #'s), Morgan (Ariz.  rookie ball, and pretty unimpressive at taht).
At least Wilson did something nice in Clinton.  But the Deej and Kivlehan have ALREADY done something worth paying attention to at the AA level.  
That's different, like it or not.  The other guys may do it, but haven't yet.   


And I'll start to get excited. And even then, it's a crapshoot. I can't get excited about Jackson as #1 in the entire org. Morgan? Looks like Alex Liddi from here - MAYBE. Liddi may be his upside. Guerrero - dime a dozen of these guys out of that league, although to be fair, we've had a couple dozen exciting Latin ball players (can someone say Electric Bat!) who will never even hit in the Cal league. But yeah, Kivlehan, maybe Deej - I like those AA numbers. By AA, you've done some serious weeding out, sheep and goat separations and such. Of course, Montero and Romero had them AA drool-worthy numbers too. Still. GLS is right, and I'm not saying anything groundbreaking here. Some of these kids will emerge.


You guys are missing the point here.
If you make a bold statement now though, and follow it up with numerous comments and facts / stats - you too could have your own moment in the sun here!!!
These comments should be about how Gordon did this 2+ years ago... we will have plenty of time to praise these young stars over the years of watching them play.

GLS's picture

I don't know if we'll ever see another athlete like Bo Jackson. Michael Jordan had the same competitive drive, if not more, but Jackson gets all the money on pure athleticism and the ability to adapt his abilities to play two professional sports at the highest level. If he had stayed healthy, he was almost certain to enter the hall of fame in football and there likely would have been an argument for the baseball hall of fame as well.


Sorry, Doc, but the history on Bo is a bit misleading and doesn't leave Patrick with the wonder he deserves.
Bo Jackson was an outstanding HS baseball player. Good enough, that even though he told teams he'd promised his Mama he would go to college, the Yankees still drafted him in the second round - supposedly George said "We GOTTA take that chance."
Bo was offered many scholarships for both baseball and football. He took a football scholarship because, then as now, the football scholarship covered far more of a student's expenses, including an enhanced meal plan. He picked Auburn both because it was close to home, but also because they promised to let him play both sports and run track. (He was also a world-class sprinter, who would run a 10.4 100, and was state HS champion high jumper 6'9" and triple jumper 48'8" and also competed in the decathalon).
At Auburn he played all four years of baseball eligibility, but was injured his sophomore year (apparently in a spring football practice) and got no game action. He played 89 games total in his time there, with a 1.195 OPS. In his senior year, 1986, having won the Heisman Trophy, he was drafted #1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They told him they did not want him playing baseball. He continued to play his senior year spring season. Tampa told him they needed him to come to Tampa for a physical. To avoid missing class or games, he had to fly. Tampa Bay told him they had a private plane flight approved by the NCAA, so he flew to Tampa. The Buccaneers then ratted to the NCAA that he had received a plane flight from them. The NCAA revoked his baseball eligibility in the middle of the season.
As a result, Bo refused to speak to or negotiate with Tampa, and demanded his rights be relinquished. Tampa refused. When the baseball draft occurred a few months later, he was drafted in the 4th round by the Royals, who were coming off their World Championship year. He immediately signed with them, and based on his NCAA performance, was assigned to AA Memphis.
In Memphis, he hit (OPS) .891 in the remaining 53 games of the AA season, then was called to Kansas City in September, where he OPSed .615 in 25 games but demonstrated extraordinary fielding skills. He received a spring training invite for 1987. When in Spring Training 1987, he was told that the NFL had ordered him re-entered in the draft and the Raiders picked him in the 7th round as the 187th pick.
*********>>>>> Al Davis then told him that he could continue to play baseball, and PLAY FOOTBALL as "sort of a hobby". Bo agreed to sign with the Raiders on that basis. The Royals, feeling that they might lose him otherwise, decided to open 1987 with Bo on the 25-man roster. So he was on an Opening Day MLB roster prior to playing his first game in the NFL.

misterjonez's picture

had a jaw-dropping quote a few years back. He has been asked repeatedly how he could go from a karate background to ---> learning the full arsenal of MMA tools to ---> becoming one of the five or ten best pure WRESTLERS of his size in Canada without ever having wrestled throughout his youth.
His answer was astonishing, and paints a picture of just how different people can be from one another. The paraphrased quote is, "Most people, when they learn something new (like a new position or technique) need to drill that technique five hundred or a thousand times before their body remembers how to do it. Me, I only have to do it properly one time and I can repeat it forever. That is why I can learn these other skills: I can focus on perfecting the *sequencing and timing* rather than the physical demonstration of the individual techniques." That was heavily paraphrased, but it was clear from that interview that GSP's brain is simply different than the vast majority of world-class athletes.
I think this may be true of Kivlehan to some degree as well. I'm no expert, but his Fangraphs page stats sure don't scream 'raw, toolsy player' to me. That looks more like a line you might expect to see from a young Richie Sexson than it does a guy who didn't pick up the game until a couple years ago, or even one who had been playing against subpar competition for a handful of years before getting a shot.


1.  My memory is starting to go fast.  :- )  Now I remember the Royals players, including Brett, sitting at an NFL game and being interviewed later "I guess he CAN do both."  Do remember The Throw from the track and of course the Bosworth game too.   All that stuff about the NFL talking him back into football, that's right.  Thanks.
2.  "Revisionist" history has the connotation that --- > you're well aware of the conventional point of view, and are trying to change people's perceptions, especially by concealing facts and deliberately moving history into a misguided place.  I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that :- )
3.  I had no idea Bo played college baseball.  Wow.  And I wonder why his stats are not listed on
3a.  Still, 284 AB's in college is 1/2 a season total, and his minors time was minimal too.  He had what, 470 total AB's between High School and the Royals, sprinkled over four years?
Still and all.  Bo had the chance to keep his hand in, keep his batting eye, and that's all the difference.  Kivlehan's trajectory is fundamentally different than Bo's.  Your (material) point is well taken sir.


At one time, "Revising" history had the idea almost of "correcting" it.  With good intentions.  And of course you wouldn't have used the term in a pejorative sense among friends here.  Was just sort of clarifying.  The term (through no fault of yours) is a real irritant to me these days :- ) 
In the "back atcha" department, you know where I stand with respect to your military service, sir.  (Am writing a bunch of Veteran's Day articles for the Ranger as we speak.)  To say nothing of your value to the board.


Although the term has taken on a negative connotation for some, especially due to its use to justify blatantly ideological views of history, it originally meant taking a fresh view of (esp. American) history, that took account of the place of women, the struggle for Civil Rights starting with the freedmans' movement, and a fairer view of the labor strife of the 1870s-1930s and the plight of the common man. Lewis and Clark College in Portland, when I went there in the 60s, had one of the outstanding revisionists of the time, Robert Cruden, whose histories of the post-Civil War South put the carpet baggers, the freedmen, Jim Crow, and the Klan into what is now the accepted interpretation of that time. (as opposed to the D.W. Griffith interpretation). That's the revisionism I respect and admire.
So, to me, a revisionist view can be a way of looking at the facts to draw new conclusions, and perhaps find new heroes. Patrick Kivlehan, along with Roenis Elias, is one of my Adopt-a-Players at MC. I chose him several years ago because of the uniqueness of his story. He is truly one-of-a-kind. And though comparison to Bo Jackson in the way that you were should not be considered diminishing Patrick, I thought his story was somewhat different than I thought you were portraying, and was in some ways MORE remarkable.
My admiration of Bo Jackson is unbounded; I think he is a great MAN, not just a great athlete. He has given African-American young people one heck of a role model. I would be proud of any kid who tried to emulate Bo or David Robinson as a man, even if their athletic endowments and skills are perhaps unsurpassable.
And my admiration for you and this website is also unbounded. Forgive me if I try to inject some different twists on the subject now and again!
But that does not detract from my awe at what Patrick is doing - playing a game which for even the best takes years and years of constant practice, and by force of will and skill, taming it to a remarkable degree.


That my intent, like Dr. Cruden's, was by adding to and expanding our view of who and how, to find a wider view, not a narrower one of what has happened and is happening. By widening our understanding of who was involved (in this case that silver-tongued devil Al Davis) and how the episode unfolded, we come nearer the truth.
Rather than using selective truth in the service of ideology, historians should try to ADD to the sum of knowledge from which to draw conclusions, lessons, and ideas to emulate. I'm sorry you have a dim view of the revisionist movement, but it was and is, at heart, a movement to EXPAND our understanding of the past, allowing in fact for MORE viewpoints to be seen, rather than a "correcting" of history as told by the bad old white man that some now perceive it to be.
By the way, there's an excellent Wikipedia article "Historical Revisionism" that touches both kinds - mine, and the one you are referring to. Good read.


when discussing amazing multi-sport athletes. Bo was special for sure and the only one who comes to my mind that might possibly have been almost his equal. For Kivlehan to be mentioned with either is an elevation to extraordinary.

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