Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part eight…of 286. Stay tuned.
Corey Bird is a 6’1″, 185 lb. outfielder from Charleston, WV. Born on August 11th, 1995, he was a three-year starter at Marshall University. In 149 contests overall, he slashed .301/.374/.342, with 58 stolen bases, 52 RBI, and 100 strikeouts. The Miami Marlins selected him in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, with the 203rd overall selection.
Success from the 203rd choice is not unheard of at the major league level. If BIrd makes it to the majors, he’ll be the 10th 203rd choice to make it that far. The best performer from the position was Curt Leskanic (1989, Cleveland Indians, 12.1 career WAR), but others have also found success. Joey Wendle (Indians, 2012, 4.0), Jason Lane (1999, Houston Astros, 1.8) and Dana Kiecker (1983, Boston Red Sox, 1.5) were also part of the “203 club.”
A left fielder by trade, Bird has played 57 games in left, 123 in center, and 14 in right through his first three seasons of professional ball. He’s racked up a .993 fielding percentage over that time, making three errors in 431 overall chances. He also has racked up 15 outfield assists during that time, displaying his solid-average arm.
After signing with the Miami Marlins for a $175,000 bonus out of the draft, Bird joined the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League. Over 58 appearances, he slashed .237/.302/.265, with an ISO of just .028. Despite his lack of power, he shows plus-speed, stealing 16-of-22 bases. He collected 13 multi-hit games, including three three-hit affairs. On June 27th, in an 11-5 win over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, he went three-for-six with a double and three RBI.
A left-handed hitter, Bird graduated to the low-A South Atlantic League’s Greensboro Grasshoppers to begin the 2017 campaign. In 81 games, he slashed .294/.360/.387 with 19 extra base hits, 30 RBI, 23 stolen bases in 32 attempts, and 59 strikeouts in 331 plate appearances. Near the end of July, he was promoted to the Jupiter Hammerheads in the high-A Florida State League and played well in a small sample size. He slashed .274/.328/.327 in 29 games, with 10 RBI, 10 walks and nine strikeouts in 127 plate appearances. On August 15th, Bird went 0-for-0 in five plate appearances, collecting a sacrifice fly for an RBI along with four walks in a 6-5 win over the Dunedin Blue Jays.
Alex Carver over at Fish on the Farm wrote a nice scouting report on Bird prior to the 2018 campaign:
"Bird approaches from a straight away stance that sees his back foot straddling the back of the box and that he stays back on advantageously, allowing him to read the break on pitches, no matter how late and if he so chooses, engage a swing that may be the quickest in the organization thanks to his adaptable hands. These are Bird’s best mechanical tools and the bread and butter he projects to ride to the top of an MLB lineup. His swing is lateral and he has the smarts to settle for what he is given and he rarely presses, even when he is infrequently behind in the count."
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This season, Bird slashed .246/.328/.263 in 15 games to start the season with Jupiter, then was placed on the dl and didn’t rejoin the Hammerheads until very late in the season due to an injury. After a rehab assignment which saw him take at bats at both the Gulf Coast League and in Batavia, he rejoined Jupiter on August 11th.
Bird closed out his Hammerheads season by collecting just 12 hits over 19 games, watching his average dip from .246 to .217. He still stole seven bases despite all his missed time, and struck out just 16 percent of the time.
Bird is perfectly poised for a breakout 2019 season. His likely starting point will again be Jupiter, with a possibility that the Miami Marlins open him instead with the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the double-A Southern League. His best case long-term scenario would see him join the Miami Marlins at some point during the 2020 season.
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