As we continue our tour of the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape this afternoon, we take a look at Chicago White Sox # prospect, Zack Burdi.
After selecting catcher Zack Collins as the 10th overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, the Chicago White Sox weren’t done solidifying their future with high picks. As compensation for losing Jeff Samardzija in free agency, the White Sox received the 26th overall pick, and used it to select Zack Burdi, a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher out of the University of Louisville.
As far as first impressions go, Burdi is not very adept at them. Just a few days after being drafted, Burdi gave up a series-ending, game-winning, walk-off grand slam to catapult U.C. Santa Barbara further into the College World Series. However, don’t let one home run fool you. Burdi pitched exceptionally well at Louisville, finishing his career with a 2.45 ERA and a 10.8 K/9 mark, which bests Chris Sale‘s career average.
Although his 2016 campaign featured a 3.30 ERA, much of that can be attributed to the U.C. Santa Barbara game, and one other 4-run outing, which are just blemishes on an overall sparkling season.
So what are Burdi’s pros and cons? He keeps his fastball in the 95-98 miles per hour range, which complements his solid slider. With variety always important, the fact that Burdi maintains a quality change-up should encourage the White Sox.
Here’s what MLB Pipeline has to say about the 21 year-old:
“Zack’s advantages over his brother (Nick Burdi) are a cleaner delivery, better control and command and a viable third pitch. Burdi has flashed a plus changeup with sink, though he doesn’t use it much coming out of the bullpen.”
That’s right, even with all of his talent, Burdi is much better suited for the bullpen, and all signs point to the White Sox stationing him there for his career. Besides, it’s not like Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria are worried about their future starting rotation. With David Robertson and even Nate Jones pondered as potential trade targets, Burdi’s trajectory may lead to him being a longtime closer on the south side.
Burdi’s time in the minors have not revealed any glaring issues with him. In 38.0 IP, he posted a 3.32 ERA across four different teams, including Triple-A Charlotte. His strikeout numbers remained fantastic, and he kept opposing hitters to a .174 batting average. Continuing the trend of no big issues, Burdi showed he could compete at all levels, as his numbers took no dip as he advanced to Double-A and Triple-A.
With Burdi’s polished skill-set, the White Sox won’t have much need for him to develop in the minors. It’s unclear whether he’ll break spring training with Chicago, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t get the call up sometime before the All-Star Game. There, depending on who’s been traded, Burdi should be inserted into a 7th or 8th inning relief spot, and in time should ascend into the closing spot.
So for you anxious White Sox fans clamoring to see development soon, Burdi is one of your guys. Kopech, Giolito, Lopez, and Moncada all require a bit more fine-tuning, and while one of those four may make it before Burdi, Burdi seems to be the closest. Only time will tell if his readiness will translate to a long, successful career for the White Sox.