Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Top 5 Performers in May

Altoona Curve pitcher Roansy Contreras as the Binghamton Rumble Ponies hosted Altoona on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Ponies lost to the Curve, with a score of 5-0.
Altoona Curve pitcher Roansy Contreras as the Binghamton Rumble Ponies hosted Altoona on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Ponies lost to the Curve, with a score of 5-0. /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 20: A New Era pillbox Pittsburgh Pirates baseball hat is seen in the dugout during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park on July 20, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Starting Pitcher Michael Burrows

The hot start to the 2021 season of Michael Burrows has been sliding under many radars. Burrows has simply been one of the best pitchers at the High-A level and isn’t getting nearly as much attention for it as he deserves.

Burrows has pitched to the tune of a 1.13 ERA, 2.27 FIP and 0.69 WHIP through 16 innings of work in his 4 starts. The right-hander has gotten a ton of strikeouts. He currently sits with a 43.1% strikeout rate, a huge improvement from his 2018-2019 mark of 21.3%. He’s improved his walk rate as well. His 8.6% walk rate is a 1.8% improvement since 2019. Burrows has always been good at suppressing home runs and is doing it again this year. He currently only has allowed 1 home run for a 0.56 HR/9 rate.

The 11th round draft pick in the 2018 draft, Burrows is currently among the Pirate minor league leaders. Among their pitchers with at least 10 innings, Burrows is first in opponent average against, second in WHIP, third in strikeout rate, ERA, 4th in walk rate, 5th in FIP and 6th in xFIP (3.00).

Burrows fastball has always had a high spin rate, but he’s also added a few ticks of velocity. He also has a plus curveball. The question remains if he can develop a third offering, which may be the decision-maker as to whether or not he remains in as a starting pitcher or not. So far, the most innings he’s gone in a single game is 4.1 innings.

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