When thinking about the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates’ bullpen, a 25-year-old righty could be a factor that most are overlooking
In the minor league portion of last year’s Rule 5 Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Nick Burdi from the Minnesota Twins. Burdi, once a highly touted pitching prospect for Minnesota, was set to miss most of 2018 due to Tommy John Surgery. However, this did not scare off Neal Huntington and the Pirates.
17 innings into the 2017 season, Burdi, who at the time was pitching at the Double-A level, found himself in need of Tommy John Surgery. This caused him to miss the rest of the 2017 season, and the Twins to expose him to the Rule 5 Draft.
Working back from surgery Burdi pitched at the High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels for the Pirates last season. He logged 11 innings in the minor leagues allowing seven earned runs, he walked six batters, and he whiffed 14.
Once healthy, Burdi earned a September call-up from the Pirates. This marked the first time in Burdi’s career that he had reached the MLB level.
Burdi’s first MLB action did not go well. He pitched in just two games, and allowed three earned runs on three hits, two walks, and a home run in just 1 1/3 innings pitched. He also picked up the first two strikeouts on his MLB career.
Despite his struggles, do not sleep on Burdi. He throws a power fastball that has touched triple digits in the past that he compliments with a hard, biting slider. This combination can make him a solid reliever in short outings.
Burdi has the tools to be a middle reliever in a strong Pirate bullpen. The front office also thought highly enough of Burdi to select him in the Rule 5 Draft. These factors make him a reliever that you should not forget about entering the 2019 season.