The Toronto Blue Jays promoted infielder Andy Burns to the major league roster yesterday. This is his second promotion this year: he was in the majors briefly back in May. We neglected to write him up during his first promotion so we'll remedy that right now as part of our MLB Rookie Report series.
Burns was originally drafted in the 11th round by the Blue Jays in 2011 from the University of Arizona. He's moved slowly but steadily up the farm ladder, putting in solid 2014 (.255/.315/.430, 15 homers, 18 steals in Double-A) and 2015 (.293/.351/.372 in Triple-A) seasons in the high minors.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Andy Burns, INF, Toronto Blue Jays
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 190 DOB: August 7, 1990
2013: Grade C; 2014: Grade C+; 2015: Grade C
Andy Burns deserves a shot as a utility infielder. So do a lot of other guys and it remains to be seen if Burns’ opportunity will come, but he doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors. He controls the strike zone reasonably, will show some doubles pop, and is a very good defender at second and third base. His range is stretched at shortstop but he can play there in an emergency, and he’s also taken innings in the outfield without embarrassing himself. At age 25 the upside is rather limited but under the right conditions his versatility and occasional sparks of hitting can be valuable for someone. Grade C.
Burns hasn't been excellent in Triple-A this year, hitting .238/.298/.350 through 51 games, but I don't think his outlook has changed much. He has generally average tools across the board: average speed with a touch of raw power, mediocre range at shortstop but with a strong throwing arm that fits well at third base. He's very good when used at second base, isn't terrible in the corner outfield spots, and has some experience at first base. The only things he hasn't done are play center field or catcher though I'm sure he'd try if you asked.
Burns' defensive versatility and occasional sparks of hitting should keep him in the picture as a utility man. It would not shock me if he had one of those "surprise" surges at age 27/28 when he suddenly hits the snot out of the ball for a year or two.