Could Burdi make big leagues months after Draft?

June 30th, 2016

CHICAGO -- Zack Burdi is pitching for the White Sox organization he supported as a fan growing up in Downers Grove, Ill.

The hard-throwing right-hander has been promoted from the Arizona Rookie League to Class A Winston-Salem, and there already has been talk that Burdi could help the big league team before the 2016 season is complete.

No pressure there for the 26th pick overall in the MLB Draft three weeks ago, a pick the White Sox received in compensation for free agent Jeff Samardzija signing with the Giants.

"From a stuff standpoint, from a makeup standpoint, I think the consensus even outside the organization is that he has the potential to be a very fast-moving individual," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn during a recent interview on Burdi. "But until you have him on campus and you work with him on a daily basis, and you see how he recovers between outings, and you see how the ball looks coming out of his hand as you start to extend him a little bit, or use him on the back to back outings, it's difficult to say yes, he's going to be able to move as quickly as people project.

"So far he's been great. His challenge right now is Winston."

Burdi, 21, has allowed one run on four hits over two innings for the Dash, pitching on Friday and Monday. Between Arizona and Winston-Salem, the young talent possessing 100-mph fastball capabilities has fanned two and not issued a walk in three innings.

Chris Sale, who is on his way to a fifth straight All-Star appearance as a starter, joined the White Sox bullpen within two months of being selected 13th overall in the 2010 Draft. Burdi could pitch out of the White Sox bullpen this season and eventually move into a rotation role.

Carlos Rodon, who started for Chicago on Thursday, was selected third overall in the 2014 Draft, and talk immediately followed about the left-hander making it to the Majors that same season. But the White Sox felt Rodon needed more work on his fastball command, as is the case for most young pitchers, and they didn't have a need to bring him up with the team out of contention. Sale pitched in '10 for a team that needed left-handed relief help, had playoff aspirations and finished with 88 victories.

Ultimately, Burdi has a strong say in how far he can go in his Draft season. But Burdi simply has to focus on sharpening his craft and not worry about the big league permutations.

"We are going to send him out there and see how much he can handle basically, being cognizant of the fact that he is very quickly removed from college," said Hahn of the Louisville standout. "He knows ... and his agent knows.

"They know we have experience in this area and that we are capable of developing a guy quickly if it's in his best interest. They've been great from a standpoint of they want to do whatever we feel is best from a development standpoint and getting him moving on the path as a pro."