With Mike Burrows working on a slider in camp, the highly touted pitching prospect could see his ceiling become even higher
Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitching prospect Mike Burrows has made many developmental strides since 2020. At the end of the shortened COVID season, Burrows was only a two-pitch pitcher, mostly using his fastball and curveball, with his change-up a distant and rarely used third pitch. However, fast forward to 2023, and the right-hander is now one of the organization's best pitching prospects. But Burrows isn’t done yet, as he’s been working on a slider in camp.
His fastball and curveball are considered elite offerings. A spin-rate darling, Burrows works in the mid-90s with his fastball and puts about 2500 RPM on the pitch. That would have put him about in the 96th-98th percentile of fastball spin rate in the big leagues last year. His curveball has even more spin, hitting 3000 RPM. That would put him in a similar percentile range to his curveball.
His changeup has come a very long way. It induced a whiff 53% of the time last year, according to FanGraphs. Last year, only six MLB pitchers had a changeup with a whiff rate of 50% or greater. He also used it about 16% of the time, and it has truly become a well above-average pitch. Three great offerings have significantly boosted his prospect stock and his future outlook, but he’s looking to add a fourth pitch to his arsenal this spring.
Burrows has been working on a slider, a pitch that is showing both some drop and horizontal action. It’s only one video, but Burrows has shown the talent to improve his changeup greatly. Maybe he can do the same with his slider, and incorporate a fourth offering into the mix:
Burrows pitched well last season. His numbers are a tad inflated because of a poor final start to 2022, but, overall, he looked well on his way to making his major league debut sometime this year. Had Burrows not been slowed down by an injury, he may have made his debut already, similar to Roansy Contreras in 2021.
Fans should look forward to Burrows next season. He could prove to be a key member of this team’s future. He’s already displaying three well-above-average offerings. Even if his slider isn’t up to par with his fastball/curveball/changeup, even a fourth average offering could still make him significantly better, and able to mix-and-match his pitch usage.