Moving forward with our 2016 MLB Draft coverage, we turn out attention back to college pitching with a look at University of Louisville fireballing right-hander closer Zack Burdi.
The terms "Burdi,' "fireballing," "closer," and "Louisville" seem to go together: Zack's older brother Nick was their closer back in 2014, showing a 100 MPH fastball that got him drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Twins. A similar talent, Zack was a well-regarded high school pitcher out of Downers' Grove, Illinois, back in 2013, but he had a firm Louisville commitment and wasn't drafted. He was mainly on the sidelines as a freshman in 2014, pitching just 10 innings, but began to take a larger role in 2015, posting a 0.92 ERA, nine saves in 20 games, with a 30/8 K/BB in 29 innings.
He also spent the summers of 2014 and 2015 in the Cape Cod League, posting a composite 2.89 ERA in 28 innings with a 33/14 K/BB.
Burdi shared the closer role with four other pitchers last year but in 2016 he has been the full-time stopper, picking up 10 saves in 25 outings with a 2.00 ERA. His K/BB ratio is exceptional at 45/7 and he's given up just 13 hits all season in 27 innings.
He's not doing this with junk pitches. Listed at 6-3, 210, Burdi was born March 19, 1995. Like his brother, Zack throws very hard, 95-99 MPH with reported peaks at 101. This is not straight heat, either, and the combination of velocity and movement makes the fastball a plus/plus pitch. Zack has a slider that is decent but not as good as Nick's, however Zack has a better change-up than Nick at the same stage. The change-up is good enough that some scouts believe he can start at higher levels, though he'll get to the majors faster as a reliever.
Burdi's control is unusually good for a pitcher who throws this hard, another reason why he's expected to move quickly. Draft-wise he entered the spring as a projected second round pick but his stock has risen; he could very well end up in the first round and won't last past the compensation round.