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Burnes rising fast, eyes MLB breakthrough

Pitching prospect has 1.74 ERA across two Minor League seasons
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Most Minor League players will say it's best to keep one's head down and focus on the job at hand during the baseball season, rather than worry about personnel moves at higher levels. "Control what you can control," they all say.

Then comes the offseason, and a guy can dream a little. Just ask fast-rising Brewers pitching prospect Corbin Burnes.

MILWAUKEE -- Most Minor League players will say it's best to keep one's head down and focus on the job at hand during the baseball season, rather than worry about personnel moves at higher levels. "Control what you can control," they all say.

Then comes the offseason, and a guy can dream a little. Just ask fast-rising Brewers pitching prospect Corbin Burnes.

"During the season, you try to stay away from it. You focus on what you can do every day, whether it's in the weight room or on the field, to try to get better," Burnes said this month while taking part in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program. "In the offseason, you can kind of drift to it a little bit. Playing catch, working out, it's always there to look at."

Burnes, 23, is not expected to crack the Brewers' Opening Day roster, but he is moving up, and thus the team's Major League transactions this winter -- or lack thereof -- could have an impact on his own timeline.

The right-hander has done his part to advance his personal schedule since joining the pro ranks as Milwaukee's fourth-round Draft pick in 2016 out of St. Mary's College of California. In two Minor League seasons, Burnes is 11-3 with a 1.74 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings. In 2017, he made it to Double-A Biloxi for his final 16 starts and posted a 2.10 ERA.

Burnes was an easy pick for the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He traveled to Miller Park in September for an on-field ceremony before a game.

"I started to learn a lot when I got to Double-A," Burnes said. "That's where you've got a lot of guys who have been around the system for a while, been in the Minor Leagues, so I was able to pick stuff from them, whether it's pitch sequence or how to get guys out. It was a really beneficial year for me, and I'm looking forward to building on what I have."

Tweet from @Burnes16: Excited to be a part of #BrewersOnDeck. Looking forward to a fun day and meeting all the @Brewers fans! https://t.co/6mCFff2o4n

Burnes currently ranks seventh on MLB Pipeline's top Brewers prospects list and is No. 97 in baseball, though he's likely to climb both rankings when the lists are updated for 2018. Another Brewers pitching prospect climbing alongside Burnes in the system, Brandon Woodruff, got a taste of the Majors in 2017. The Brewers also believe right-hander Luis Ortiz will start in the Majors.

Burnes was among three Brewers prospects, with infielder Mauricio Dubon and catcher Jacob Nottingham, to attend the Rookie Career Development Program near Washington in Leesburg, Va. The program has been running since 1992, a joint effort between MLB and the MLB Players Association to educate prospects about off-field issues that can arise and how to deal with them.

"These are some of the best Minor League players and big league players right now," Burnes said. "It's an honor to be here. I'm trying to take in everything I can."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corbin Burnes