Over the years I’ve written up quite a few players we’ve seen play at Roger Dean Stadium Class A+ ball, the home of the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins affiliate) and the Palm Beach Cardinals (Cardinals affiliate). I’ve watched many “graduate” the most notables being Giancarlo Stanton (who played under the name of Mike Stanton when I saw him play for the Hammerheads in 2009) and Christian Yelich (who reminded me of Jacoby Ellsbury). But I like to concentrate my “scouting” on the pitchers, my position way back as a kid when I dreamt of major league glory. I’ve watched Jarlin García, Justin Nicolino and Andrew Heaney make their way to the big leagues (Heaney is expected to miss the entire 2017 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery). I’ve written up others who are still seasoning in the minors but at a higher level.
I normally concentrate on the “home team” candidates but last Wednesday I wanted to focus on the Lakeland Tigers’ Beau Burrows. He was the Tigers’ first draft pick right out of high school in 2015 and he is leading the Florida State league with a 1.23 ERA, a WHIP under 1, and more than a strikeout per inning. He will probably be the starting pitcher in the league’s All Star game later this month.
So it was with much anticipation seeing him pitch against the Palm Beach Cardinals’ Derian Gonzalez. Ironically, it was Gonzalez who outpitched Burrows, throwing seven scoreless innings and the Cardinals winning the game 2-0. Nonetheless, Burrows impressed. He’s powerfully built, 6-2” and 200 lbs. He reminded me a little of another pitcher who came out of Texas, Roger Clemens. Burrows allowed 1 earned run on 5 hits and 6 strikeouts in his 7 innings pitched. He has all the stuff, including a fast ball approaching 100 mph and complements that with good breaking pitches. What he didn’t have the other night was pinpoint control, too many well hit balls as a consequence, luckily, for him, usually right at someone. It was not his finest outing, but he is a work in progress as it should be for a 20 year old. If he doesn’t get hurt, look for him in the “show” in a year or two. It was wonderful to see him work at this stage, up close -- the great advantage of seeing ball at the minor league level.