P2Daily: Mike Burrows Continues To Develop, Nearing Major League Opportunity

After the rapid emergence of Roansy Contreras in 2021 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, heads turned to this past season to see if the system could produce another breakout starter on the mound.

A former 11th round pick out of high school, Mike Burrows seemed poised for a big season after mastering the hitter friendly confines in Greensboro (2.10 ERA in six games), but there were plenty of questions the righty needed to answer before he can really break loose.

One was pitching an entire season in the system. Not only did the shutdown of the 2020 minor league season cost Burrows potentially his first full season in the minors (drafted in 2018, but spent 2019 in short-season West Virginia), but he also missed time in 2021 with an oblique injury. Burrows was able to make some of those innings back in the Arizona Fall League, but entering 2022 he had yet to pitch more than 50 innings during a minor league regular season.

Burrows answered that call, and despite missing time with another injury, he logged a career high 94.1 innings across two levels, finishing one stop short of the majors.

The second big key for Burrows was adding to his already lethal fastball/curveball combination. Armed with one of the better curves in the system, Burrows lacked the use of a third pitch to give him more of a starter’s arsenal as opposed to a potential reliever.

Once again he answered that, putting emphasis on using the changeup, even in situations he may be more comfortable throwing another pitch. The results were positive, as the changeup became a pitch he could eventually use to strike hitters out, or throw for strikes.

After tearing through Double-A, much like Contreras the year before, and missing time with an injury, Burrows fell just short of making a last minute start with the Pirates. He certainly put himself in a position to be one of the first options up from Triple-A next year (he’s rule 5 eligible, so it’s likely he ends up on the 40-man roster anyways, furthering helping his cause).

While Burrows emerged as one of the top pitchers in the Pirates system, and a top 100 overall prospect in multiple outlets, there will still be a few things he will still need to answer before becoming a full-time starter in Pittsburgh.

One is staying healthy. He’s dealt with injuries in each of the last two seasons — one cut his year short before returning to the AFL, the other he came back just in time to make one more start in Triple-A. He did double his innings from the year prior, and all indications are that the Pirates stayed on the side of caution with Burrows as far as easing him back this season.

He’s still going to have to show he can stay off the injured list if he wants to remain a starter, as up to this season there was some talk about him being a potential reliever.

The next will be to put his Triple-A numbers behind him and show that he is closer to his results in Altoona. Fatigue and his injury could be argued about as to why he may have struggled with Indianapolis, but he also got hit around quite a bit in his last Double-A start, and just never seemed to fully recover.

His strikeout rate dropped by nearly 10% (32.4% to 23.3%) after making the jump up to Indianapolis, and his ERA was nearly two and a half runs higher as well.

Of all the prospects that are expected to make their debut next season for the Pirates, Burrows will be towards the top when it comes to the hype surrounding him. But like any other prospect, there is still work to be done with Burrows, although he’s been able to answer any challenge presented to him to this point.

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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It’s good to read an optimistic article about a Pirate pitcher. Yet,
that contrarian attitude, born of many disappointments, is running through my
mind. All the signs of a ‘hard road ahead’ are present in this piece. Less strikeouts
and more walks, means better hitters that don’t chase. These tendencies lead to
higher ERA’s because pitchers are forced to the middle of the plate to avoid ‘free-passes.’
Of course, the solution is ‘command,’ i.e., pitching to corners and edges.
Unfortunately, Pirate minor leaguers don’t seem to be schooled that way and
arrive in Pittsburgh unequipped to face major league hitters. Hopefully,
Burrows is different.


I guess i am a little older than the majority posting on this site but you should look at the number of innings and complete games pitchers had in the 60’s and 70″s it will blow your mind.


One of my favorite (non-Pirates) series was the White Sox’ 4-1 ALCS win over the Angels in 2005. Guillen used five pitchers in the series; five pitchers to cover 45 innings. They had four complete games and a reliever come in to get two outs in the other game. Their starters weren’t quite as dominant in the WS but they each went 7 innings in the 4-0 sweep of the Astros.

Wilbur Miller

My favorite is still the Pirates’ ‘79 bullpen. Slightly different thing, but just as crazy. Three guys, 250 games, 345.2 IP, 28 wins, 50 saves.

b mcferren

Mike Maddux not the pitching coach of the cardinals anymore


Clearing the way for Yadi?


Hoping for good things, we need that beard in the Burgh!


fwiw Burrows’ delivery & release point remind me alot of Trevor Bauer’s. Not comparing stuff, just appearance

b mcferren

should sign Trevor Bauer to mentor him

Wilbur Miller

Isn’t his xASSHOLE metric good enough?


Unrelated, but does anyone have access to the athletic? I saw a comment elsewhere that Luis Ortiz has skyrocketed up Eno’s stuff+ board, and I was wondering if we could get some of that info thrown in here


Appreciate you!


Hoping that jared jones makes a burrows like leap this upcoming season, while we are far from getting results at the major league level as of now, I feel the best I have in a long time about the pipeline of arms that we have built up


If the question was whether or not Burrows could stay healthy and pitch a full season, the answer is “no.” 94 innings is not a full season for a starter. Even if he were to average a meager 5 IP per start that still averages to less than 20 starts. Next year there will still be a conversation about limiting his innings because, well, because – no pitcher in the universe can now stand to pitch a full season in the Pirates system if that means even 5 IP over 30 starts or 6 IP over 25 starts (both make 150 IP). Their arm might fall off!


I’m under no illusion MLB organizations will change their approach on innings/pitches limitations. Far too much money at stake.

The funny thing is all these kids threw more innings and pitches/start in HS and travel ball.

I once saw a GA HS Pitcher who was later drafted by the Red Sox pitch north of 120 pitches through 6 innings in a game. The only reason he was taken out was because his dad made the coach remove him. Ironically, I heard he had TJ surgery within a couple years after Red Sox drafted him and undoubtedly started treating him more conservatively.


You’re right that 150 innings is uncommon these days, but calling out the pirates as being somehow unique is wrong.

Only 62 MLB pitchers threw over 150 innings in 2022. That’s 2 per team. Two pirates did it (Quintana & Keller) so an average number.

Minor leagues? You wouldn’t believe how few threw 150 innings. FIVE total. Here is the link to FanGraphs.


Lots to complain about with the Bucs development methods, at least historically, but this isn’t one of them.

Last edited 3 months ago by sewer2001

Great info. People will complain about anything when it comes to the pirates.

Rob Baran

This guy should definitely post more.




Ok, I like this poster, quickly becoming my favorite seam head (compliment!)




It is even more uncommon in the minors these days. Most starters, even in AAA are not going more than 140 IP max. Would have been nice if he came back from the shoulder inflammation earlier. That last start really hurt his numbers in AAA. Before that start his ERA in AAA was only 4.10, and AAA hitters were hitting .252 against him. Not really that bad for your first go around in AAA. I agree that 94 innings is not ideal. If he could get to 125 innings I would feel good about him. This year the Pirates seemed to be very cautious with him, as he rarely went even 5 innings in a start, and only went 6 or more once.


Yes, I posted a link above and only five minor leaguers pitched 150. Of course some may have done so between minors and majors that aren’t in either list, but burrows doesn’t fall into that category so …

Last edited 3 months ago by sewer2001

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