Farm Report: Peoria’s Kirk tosses no-hitter

Players and fans of the Peoria Chiefs, the Chicago Cubs’ Class A affiliate, had more to celebrate on the Fourth of July than the country’s birthday—left-hander Austin Kirk pitched the eighth no-hitter in Chiefs franchise history in a 2-0 win over the Clinton LumberKings.

The 21-year-old struck out 10 and walked only two on his way to the first complete-game no-no for the Chiefs since 1988.

Here’s what our Minor League Prospectus, issued every February in Vine Line, had to say about Kirk in 2010:

“Polite to a fault, scouts love Kirk’s makeup but love his upside even more. His heavy fastball sits in the 88-91 range, and he pairs it with an above-average change-up. His curve also has potential. Kirk has a strong, durable frame with good strength in his legs and core. His fastball is explosive, and he locates it well at the bottom of the zone.”

Besides making an impact on the mound, Kirk already proved to be a winning personality off the field—even before the Cubs selected him in the third round of the 2009 draft. That same summer, when Kirk’s high school baseball team, the Owasso (Okla.) Rams, was making a run for the 6A state championship, Kirk and several teammates visited Odis McCormick, a longtime fan that had become too sick to attend games. Kirk and his teammates presented McCormick with one of Kirk’s old jerseys and a ball signed by the whole team.

After the Rams won their third straight championship, Kirk visited 70-year-old McCormick again, honoring him with a championship medal of his very own. When McCormick passed away in June 2009, he was laid to rest in Kirk’s jersey and the championship medal around his neck.

“It makes me always think that, even when nobody’s looking, you’re always an influence on somebody’s life,” Kirk told Vine Line in a February 2010 feature.

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