Pitcher Michael Burrows
Michael Burrows was the Bucs’ 11th round pick in 2018. The right-hander’s first two seasons in pro ball were so-so. He started off reeling off 14 straight scoreless innings. But while he pitched decently and only allowed 2 home runs in 57.2 innings, Burrows walked a fair amount of batters and didn’t strike out very many either.
Burrows pitched the entire 2021 season at High-A Greensboro. The late-round pick seemed to reach a breakout season, posting a strong 2.20 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and .898 WHIP in 49 innings. Burrows struck out 34.7% of all the batters he faced while keeping up a strong .55 HR/9. Walks were still a problem for Burrows. He had a 10.4% walk rate. The biggest issue was that he had a ground ball rate of just 29.7%, but a solid 20.8% line-drive rate. He gave up more fly balls than you’d like. He had a 49.5% fly ball rate, well over 12% higher than in 2019. His poor batted ball rates resulted in a 4.36 xFIP.
Burrows is a spin-rate monster. His four-seam fastball comes in at 2550 RPM. Meanwhile, his curve averages out with 2800 RPM. He also added some velo this year. He was working in the low-to-mid-90’s heading into this year but was more consistently working in the mid-90’s in 2021. Both his curveball and fastball project as above average. Between the two, his curve is the better offering, which FanGraphs grades out as a 60-grade offering. Though his fastball still projects to be a 55-grade pitch.
The problem with Burrows is that’s all he throws. He has two effective pitches, but only two nonetheless. He’ll occasionally throw a changeup, but it’s a work in progress at best. FanGraphs doesn’t even recognize his changeup. Baseball America seems pretty high on him if you want a more optimistic outlook on his chances as a starting pitcher. They even project him to be part of the Pirates’ 2025 rotation.
Burrows real challenge will be Double-A and Triple-A, two levels he could reach in 2022. He’s still a bit young as he’ll be 22 for the entirety of the ‘22 season. But only two offerings will get exposed in the upper levels of the minors. But even if he has to move to the bullpen, he has the lights out stuff you like to see from late-inning arms.