Kirkman has a future as a starter

Kirkman has a future as a starter

MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Kirkman, who is establishing himself as a key member of the Rangers' bullpen down the stretch, has been named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Year.

Kirkman, before being called up to the Rangers on Aug. 20, was 13-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 22 starts and two relief appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma City. In 131 innings, he allowed 115 hits and 68 walks while striking out 130. Even though he has been gone for two weeks, Kirkman's 3.09 ERA is still the third best in the PCL and he is tied for the second in wins and strikeouts.

The Rangers have been using Kirkman out of the bullpen, but manager Ron Washington said he still has a future as a starter.

"We like his stuff," Washington said. "He has an explosive fastball and a very good breaking ball in and out of the zone. It also looks like he has some mound presence and has become a guy who consistently pounds the strike zone."

Kirkman, 23, was a fifth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Lake City (Fla.) High School who has pitched eight scoreless innings since joining the Rangers, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out eight.