Pirates Prospects Player of the Week: Mike Burrows

There was some competition for the Player of the Week title, as three different players got votes for the top spot. Altoona’s Mike Burrows would likely get plenty of votes for the 2022 Player of the Year if the season ended today (it would also be a very short season). He has looked solid/strong in all six starts this year, as the Pittsburgh Pirates work him on a limited pitch count due to missed time last year. He pitched twice last week, which kept down his pitch count in the second outing. Burrows threw 8.2 innings total last week, giving up two runs on five hits, with three walks and 12 strikeouts. That performance helped him to Player of the Week honors.

On the season, Burrows has pitched a total of 26.2 innings, putting up a 1.35 ERA, a 7:35 BB/SO ratio, a .160 BAA, and an 0.83 WHIP. Among Eastern League pitchers, the 22-year-old right-hander ranks third in ERA, fourth in WHIP, fifth in BAA and eighth in strikeouts. Those are similar numbers to what he put up in Greensboro last year before an oblique injury interrupted him season. He made up some innings in the Arizona Fall League, but overall he pitched just 64.1 innings last year. The combination of his age and workload last year, as well as no 2020 season, leads you to believe that he will have his innings monitored throughout the season. However, a mid-season promotion to Indianapolis could still be possible if he continues to pitch well. At the very least, he should see Indianapolis by the end of the season.

Burrows has outstanding stuff, to put it into baseball terms. His fastball is mid-90s with movement and control. His curveball works as a strikeout pitch, though he can throw it in any count. His changeup has improved since last year and shows a nice separation from his fastball. Tim Williams talked to him late last year about the high spin rates he gets on his pitches, which has helped lead to his success. We rated Burrows as the fourth best pitching prospect in the system coming into the year, with at least one writer having him third best behind Roansy Contreras and Quinn Priester. He rated ninth overall in the system and could move up that list by the time we do our re-ranks. Burrows could really go high in the system once you factor in that Contreras and Oneil Cruz likely won’t be eligible anymore at some point this year. He’s certainly headed up during this early part of the 2022 season.

TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS

Player of the Week: Oneil Cruz  .238/.360/.524, 1 HR, 1 SB, 25 PA

Analysis: This was a very bad overall week for Indianapolis. Oneil Cruz got the Player of the Week in a week in which he batted .238, was thrown out stealing twice (plus made a costly running blunder), and had one hit in his first three (out of five) games, and two singles in his fifth game….and oh yeah, only one other player got votes for Indy’s top spot, so it’s not like he had a lot of competition. He hit a double, triple and homer in his 25 plate appearances, helping him to an .884 OPS that was 54 points higher than the next best for the week. It was just the tenth best OPS in the system, in a week where Altoona didn’t do much hitting either (see the bottom two teams for the offense). Canaan Smith-Njigba got the other Player of the Week votes for Indy. He put up an .830 OPS and stole two bases. As a side note, both Cruz and Smith-Njigba were off to slow starts (Cruz more than anyone), so a solid week from them does make this more bearable to read.  Ji-hwan Bae was the third best hitter, finishing with a .294 average and seven walks. Usually I have an .800 OPS cutoff, but we needed a close enough choice here because the pitching wasn’t good either. On the pitching side, Roansy Contreras tossed four shutout innings on one hit, two walks and six strikeouts. He has allowed one run in 10.1 innings with Indianapolis. If someone is going to pitch well, he’s the best choice. The only other two noteworthy performances were Cam Alldred and Austin Brice tossing three scoreless innings. Alldred served up three runs over 1.2 innings in his second outing of the season. In his other seven appearances, he has thrown 16 shutout innings.

DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE

Player of the Week: Mike Burrows  2.08 ERA,  12:3 K/BB,  8.2 IP

Analysis:  Unlike Indianapolis, Altoona had quite a week of pitching, which makes up for the lack of hitting. You already read about the week/season for Burrows, but there was more. Travis MacGregor allowed one run over 5.1 innings in two relief appearances, with three hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Omar Cruz and Kyle Nicolas each allowed one run over five innings in their starts. Nicolas had three hits, one walk and six strikeouts. He has a 4.12 ERA in 19.2 innings, but almost all of the damage came in one game. Cruz had four hits, no walks and four strikeouts. He has a 2.86 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 22 innings. On the hitting side, Tucupita Marcano had a .930 OPS, though he had just 13 plate appearances. Lolo Sanchez had the best week as a hitter, batting .316/.458/.421, with two doubles, four walks and a stolen base in 24 plate appearances. No one else came close to an .800 OPS. So basically, Oneil Cruz was the best hitter for the top two teams this past week.

HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS

Player of the Week: Adrian Florencio 1.29 ERA,  12:3 K/BB,  7.0 IP

Analysis:  Adrian Florencio had a great week, doing enough to get some Player of the Week consideration for the entire system. The offense exploded in Greensboro this week and he managed to have two strong outings, one as a starter and one in relief. He went seven innings total, allowing one run on two hits, three walks and 12 strikeouts. That was great to see, as he had an 11.45 ERA in four starts in April. Sean Sullivan threw four shutout frames on one hit, two walks and three strikeouts in his start on Sunday. He was the only pitcher besides Florencio who had a noteworthy week, as offense was high in Greensboro this week.  On the hitting side, the batters had a field day. Henry Davis also got Player of the Week support for the entire system. He hit .412/.474/.824 in 19 plate appearances, with a double, two homers and he drove in seven runs in four games.  Endy Rodriguez put up the best OPS of the week, finishing with a 1.446 mark in 19 plate appearances. He hit two homers and walked six times. Dariel Lopez had a .385 average, two homers and a 1.275 OPS in his four games. Matt Gorski had a 1.121 OPS in 22 plate appearances, hitting two homers and stealing a base. He has a .959 OPS this season in 25 games, with eight homers and nine steals. Hudson Head had a 1.020 OPS in his 17 plate appearances, collecting a double, triple and homer. Maikol Escotto had a .983 OPS in 17 plate appearances. Greensboro had six of the top eight hitters in the system last week, proof that the ball was flying out there, making Florencio’s performance even more impressive.

LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS

Player of the Week: Brenden Dixon  .304/.407/.652, 2 HR, 0 SB, 27 PA

Analysis: Brenden Dixon and Mike Jarvis both had big weeks for Bradenton last week. Dixon put up a 1.060 OPS in 27 plate appearances, with two doubles, two homers and four walks. He was off to a bit of a slow start before this past week. He had a .713 OPS, which is good for that league, but it came with a .200 average and he was striking out in more than 1/3rd of his plate appearances. Jarvis had a 1.042 OPS in 17 plate appearances, while stealing four bases. Jacob Gonzalez had his worst week of the season last week, then got promoted to Greensboro. I bet everyone would love to have an .808 OPS during their worst week as well. On the pitching side, Sergio Umana tossed four no-hit/scoreless innings over two relief appearances. Justin Meis allowed one earned run over six innings, as he made a start and a relief appearance. He struck out six batters. Carlos Jimenez allowed one run over 3.1 innings and struck out eight batters. He has 19 strikeouts in 11.2 innings this year.

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