Thinking About Michael Burgess

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Some thoughts on Michael Burgess.

As most of you know, Burgess was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2008 draft by the Nationals, out of high school in Tampa, Florida. He was considered an elite draft prospect and, at one point, a certain lock for the top 30, but ended up falling to 49th overall after an erratic senior year. The main problem was contact: he swung and missed too much and it worried scouts enough to drop his stock just a bit.

Burgess had a strong pro debut, hitting .336/.442/.617 in 36 games in the Gulf Coast League, then .286/.383/.457 in 19 games in the New York-Penn League. Strikeouts were an issue: he fanned 60 times in 55 games, 198 at-bats combined. He also drew 35 walks, and scouts reported that he showed good plate discipline. I gave him a B+ in the 2008 Baseball Prospect Book, but noted that the strikeouts could inhibit his batting average at higher levels if he didn't get them under control.

Looking at 2008, Burgess is showing a ton of power in the Sally League, hitting .265/.357/.523 with 17 homers and 20 doubles already. He's drawn 39 walks against 306 at-bats, but has also fanned 103 times in 85 games. Now, I try not to worry too much about strikeouts, but that IS excessive. His splits don't show a big variance....261/.333/.511 against lefties, .266/.366/.528 against righties. .272/.370/.503 at homes ,.258/.344/.541 on the road. His production month-to-month has remained fairly steady, although he did show a spike in his walk rate in June and July, and his strikeouts are down this month (five in nine games), granted the perils of sample size. Maybe he's figuring something out.

At this point, the strikeouts remain the main worry but haven't hindered his production yet. Will that remain true at higher levels? The scouting reports I have indicate that Burgess' flaws are those of approach and should be correctable. When he stays within himself, his swing is compact and quick, but sometimes he gets too aggressive, tries too hard to hit for power, and that's when the strikeouts come. He's just 19 and has time to correct these flaws. I'd rate him as a Grade B/B+ at this point, but my opinion really hasn't changed. The book grade may have been slightly too high.

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