BRADENTON, Fla. — Switching positions in baseball is never easy, but Kirk Singer is relishing the opportunity.
The native of Seal Beach, Calif., who was named after former Los Angeles Dodger Kirk Gibson, made the change from shortstop to pitcher after the 2012 season.
The decision came from the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect’s own analysis of the positional situation within the organization, as well as having an electric arm.
“It was a combination of a couple of things,” said Singer, who was drafted by the Pirates in the 29th round of the 2011 MLB draft. “I felt the organization had some depth up the middle and I wasn’t necessarily carrying the load.
“They had options, I always had a strong arm and they figured they would give it a shot and turn me into a pitcher.”
Transitioning into a starting pitcher involves building arm strength, which is something the 24-year-old understands.
“Gaining arm strength is muscle memory, its learning how to take the stress off your arms with your legs,” said Singer. “Once I know my body on the mound, I’ll be able to throw longer and longer to increase my stamina.”
Singer’s sample size as a pitcher is small as he split time with Bradenton of the Florida State League and the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League team in 2013.
Singer pitched a combined 12.1 innings, going 1-1 with a bloated 5.84 ERA as a reliever, where he would appreciate a similar role in the Pirates’ organization moving forward.
“The bullpen is good since I am used to playing every day,” said singer. “When I have down days as a pitcher I get pretty antsy, so when I’m in the bullpen I know that every other day I could be hot and that appeals to me.”
This eagerness comes naturally to Singer as he is always looking to compete each and every day.
“Competing is fun and at the heat of the moment, it’s like an addiction,” said Singer. “You kind of hate it some days and there are multiple days where it is tough to wake up out here, but I know if I don’t, I’m going to hate myself.”
Having a friend and mentor within the organization to help with the position switch is always an advantage. Singer just so happens to look up to top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon, who is on the cusp of making the major leagues with the Pirates.
“J-Mo and I are close, we are good friends and we will both go and have dinner and a beer and we will just talk about pitching for hours,” said Singer. “He’s been a big help for me.
“He talks a lot about mindset, nothing really physical. He talks about how he attacks hitters and how he attacks his day in general. Even if its non-baseball related, his whole day’s routine kind of funnels into that first pitch.”