Mike Burrows’ Slider is Showing Good Spin Early in Camp

It’s always a good sign to see any prospect, let alone one of your best, continually try to evolve their game.

 Prospects can put themselves in a great position to succeed at the highest level by always approaching things with a mindset of doing whatever needs to be done to get better, and always keeping an open mind.

After reaching Triple-A last season, and then getting added to the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Mike Burrows is knocking right on the door of making his Major League debut. With how he was pitching in 2022, you could have made a case that if not for his late season injury, he could have pitched in Pittsburgh at some point before the end of the year.

Regardless of last year’s finish, Burrows is still at work looking to improve his game as he gets ready for the 2023 season. He really came along with his changeup last year, making him more than just a two-pitch pitcher, but he wasn’t done adding to his arsenal. He showed a new-look slider in camp, giving him another breaking pitch to show hitters to keep them off-balanced.

The pitch itself doesn’t have to be great overall, but if he can throw it enough – especially for strikes – that should help the rest of his pitches play up even further.

Spring is a great time to work at these things, and slowly Burrows has been mixing in the pitch, throwing it a total of four times in each game he has played in this spring going into his final outing on Tuesday.

In the first game, he didn’t locate the pitch well, throwing all four for balls. He struggled to keep the pitch down, where it’s going to have the most effectiveness, and at first glance there isn’t much movement.

Velocity Spin Rate Vertical Break Horizontal Break
88.82 mph 2461 rpm 26.75 inches 3.25 inches

The spin rate on the pitch is good, which shouldn’t be a surprise for Burrows, who always has strong metrics in that regard with his other offerings. You would like to see more movement, but maybe something not completely surprising for the first few times throwing it live in a game situation.

We saw a lot more life in his second outing, even getting a swing and miss on the pitch. There was a little more spin on it and had slightly better movement both vertically and horizontally.

Velocity Spin Rate Vertical Break Horizontal Break
89.6 mph 2502 rpm 27.25 inches 5.5 inches

Wasn’t much, but just enough to get a whiff but also to visually look like more that you would expect of a slider.

He was able to keep all four of the sliders he threw around the knees, although ideally, you’d like the pitch farther away to try to get the hitters reaching for it.

Ji-Hwan Bae makes a nice diving stop to get to a grounder off one of them, but can’t finish the play, allowing a runner to score. Had he completed the play, it would have been a whiff, two groundouts and a foul ball allowed that day with the slider.

For Burrows, the slider never really has to be one of his better pitchers, he just has to show it enough to create an extra look for hitters.

There had been talk about Burrows eventually becoming a reliever, due to his great fastball and curveball, without much after that. If the slider continues to progress, he will have not only added one but two pitches, only furthering his position as a legitimate starting pitcher.

He has some of the highest upside when it comes to starting pitchers in the upper levels for the Pirates, and this could help his floor continue to climb as well.

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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Taillon, Glas, Mitch, Quinn, and Roansy all started with big beautiful yakkers and yet only Glas will have the curve as his primary secondary in the show.

Looks like they’re already hedging their bets with Mike, smart call. It’s a slider league now.


Another day where Rodolfo Castro does not play 2B. I wonder if they had the courtesy to share this obvious position change with Castro prior to camp, or whether they just expected it would become apparent to him sooner or later?

If the Pirates have decided that somebody else will start at 2B, I hope Bae will be that person.


Great article and info


Burrows adding a few options for a third offering is legitimately a huge development. Unrelated, but DUJ looked very solid for puerto rico tonight, against some very talented DR hitters no less


Not sure what the Pirates want to do with Keller and BRU, but the positive development of kids like Burrows, Priester, Contreras, Oviedo, Ortiz, Mlodzinski, etc. will put the Pirates in great shape for mid-2023 and beyond.

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