Number Nine – RHP Mike Burrows
Pre-season Ranking: Unranked (honorable mention)
Next at number nine is right-hander Mike Burrows. Burrows made massive strides in his 2021 and 2022 seasons. He went from a reliever’s outlook to one of the Pirates’ best pitching prospects. Burrows reached Triple-A in 2022, so look for him to work his way into the Pirates’ starting rotation sometime in the first half of the 2023 season.
Between Altoona and Indy, Burrows posted a 4.01 ERA but a healthy 3.29 FIP and 1.21 WHIP across 94.1 innings of work. Burrows led Pirates minor league starters in strikeout rate at 28.2% while carrying a 7.9% walk rate. He also only allowed eight home runs for a .76 HR/9 rate.
Burrows’ numbers are inflated by his last start of the season, in which he allowed six earned runs on one home run, and a walk, in just two-thirds of an inning. That one start made up nearly 15% of the total earned runs he allowed all year. Before that one outing, he had a 3.46 ERA, 3.11 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP.
Burrows has always shown a good fastball/curveball combo. His four-seamer averages out in the 94-96 MPH range with a ton of spin. He usually sits around 2500 RPM, making it one of the best fastballs in the Pirates’ system. His curveball is one of the best the minor leagues have to offer, with upwards of 3000 RPM of spin, making it one of the highest spin curves in the sport. Then there’s his changeup, which has come a long way from being a work-in-progress at best to an offering with some reliability. It also helps his command has improved.
The 2023 campaign will be the right-hander’s age-23 season. He has significantly climbed prospect boards over the past year, and he should continue to rise next season. By the end of the year, Burrows may potentially be one of the Pirates’ better starting pitching options.