After a quick ascent through the Minor Leagues, Corbin Burnes is ready to make an impact at the highest level.The Milwaukee Brewers selected the contract of Burnes, the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 56 overall, from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, marking one of eight roster moves made by
After a quick ascent through the Minor Leagues, Corbin Burnes is ready to make an impact at the highest level.
The Milwaukee Brewers selected the contract of Burnes, the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 56 overall, from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, marking one of eight roster moves made by the Crew to close out the week. Expected to pitch exclusively in relief, Burnes will bolster a Brewers bullpen that currently ranks third in the National League with a 3.14 ERA.
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Burnes' promotion comes amidst a stretch of three straight scoreless relief appearances for the Sky Sox during which he allowed just two hits across 4 1/3 scoreless frames. The outings were a marked improvement compared to Burnes' first three relief outings, when Burnes permitted seven earned runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 frames.
The Brewers shifted Burnes to the bullpen from the starting rotation in mid-June, after the 23-year-old right-hander had pitched to a 4.96 ERA over 69 innings and 13 starts for the Sky Sox. Despite his struggles in the role, Burnes still managed to complete at least five innings in 10 of those 13 turns, all while registering 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Overall, Burnes posted a 5.15 ERA across 19 games in the Pacific Coast League, compiling 81 strikeouts and 31 walks in 78 2/3 innings.
Burnes' Draft stock took off behind his strong showing in the 2015 Cape Cod League, and he built upon that performance the following spring as St. Mary's Fright-night starter. The Brewers made Burnes their fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft, signed him for slot value and then watched him advance to Class A Wisconsin in his professional debut.
Assigned to Class A Advanced Carolina to begin his first full season, Burnes made quick work of the Carolina League, going 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 10 starts en route to a late-May promotion to Double-A Biloxi. The Bakersfield, Calif. native was even more impressive during his time in the Southern League, registering a 2.10 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 84 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings (16 starts).
He ultimately garnered honors as Milwaukee's Minor League pitcher of the year after finishing second in the Minors with a 1.67 ERA to go along with a 0.95 WHIP, .200 opponents' average and 140-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 145 2/3 innings (26 starts).
Burnes offered Brewers fans a glimpse of his impressive stuff and bullpen potential this past spring with three strong relief appearances, two of them scoreless, in his first big league camp.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder demonstrates advanced feel for executing and sequencing four average-or-better pitches, all of which play up thanks to his above-average command.
A lightning-fast arm enables Burnes to generate a 92-95 mph fastball that has natural cutting action and could play up a few ticks in short bursts out of the bullpen. He pounds the strike zone with the pitch, using it to attack hitters on both sides of the plate, and he maintains velocity deep into starts.
Burnes' above-average curveball, thrown with a high spin rate and late, downer action, is his best secondary offering, and he also shows earns above-average grades from evaluators for his mid-80s slider. Burnes rounds out his arsenal with an effective changeup that has splitter-like action in the mid- to upper-80s, giving him a weapon against left-handed hitters.
Though he'll be utilized in relief in his first taste of the big leagues, Burnes still projects as a starter long term for the Brewers. That, of course, was also said about Josh Hader at the time of his first callup in 2017, and the left-hander has since developed into one of the more valuable bullpen assets, headlining a Milwaukee bullpen replete with strikeout artists.
Regardless of his future role, Burnes, with his combination of stuff, pitchability and overall aptitude on the mound, has the potential to immediately impact a Brewers club that currently sits atop the National League Central with a 54-36 overall record and 1.5-game lead over the second-place Cubs.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.