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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Mike Burrows Worked Through a Challenge in Triple-A

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Mike Burrows saw success across two levels in 2022, making 12 appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis.

In all actuality, the 12 games with Indianapolis was probably the most pushback Burrows has seen in his professional career. The numbers on paper were not overly kind. He a 5.31 ERA in 42.1 innings of work. His strikeout numbers were down to 8.9 per nine innings.

Behind the numbers, Burrows showed the tools that made him into that top prospect.

Burrows possessed reverse splits, as he tends to dominate left-handed hitters. In 2022, left-handed hitters hit just .201 against Burrows, with a much higher strikeout rate. He allowed just 13 extra-base hits in 173 plate appearances against left-handed hitters.

As for that success, Burrows views it as pitch usage.

“I think the changeup is a huge part of it,“ Burrows said. “I’ve been trying to get my changeup usage up to righties as well. It could just be a little bit of that, with the lefties having three pitches to really worry about. They see that I threw the changeup 30 percent of the time, whereas right handed hitters might be 10 percent. They might be eliminating that pitch a little bit more. That’s something I’ve been working on a little bit more, to throw to those guys.“

Additionally, on the mound, Burrows has made changes to his windup to make it much more repeatable and consistent. With that, his walk rates with Indianapolis were at a career low of 2.6 per nine innings.

“I really just wanted to be as efficient as possible, and that’s what came out of it,“ Burrows said. “I wasn’t looking to do anything specific, other than be efficient and have something that’s repeatable. Also, being able to hide the ball the best that I can.”

Things work best for Burrows when he can hide the ball from an efficient, repeatable delivery. That’s true of a lot of pitchers, but Burrows is still in the process of making the upper level adjustments toward that goal.

Burrows posted a 2.10 ERA in 25.2 innings down the stretch, before going on the IL in late August. He returned for one more start at the end of the season, which didn’t go well after a month’s absence. Burrows will start the 2023 season with Indianapolis, and could make the majors by the end of the year.

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Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.


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It seems that when a Pirate minor league pitcher reaches the majors, they cannot throw strikes. Apparently, they try to pitch to corners or edges, i.e., with “command.” These guys take years to get to the majors. Why aren’t they working on “command” prior to arrival, or more depressingly, what makes anyone think they’ll get command if they don’t have it already? 


Quick story – years ago I went to Champions Field in Orlando during ST to watch the Pirates play the Braves. SP that day for the Pirates was Tyler Glasnow. I watched him warm up before the game down the 3B line standing 10 feet away and watched him bury upper 90’s FB’s to either side of the plate at the knees, unleash some bodacious curves with sharp drop, and changeups that had late break and dropped to the shoetops at the plate.

He went out in the first inning and it was like some other guy was on the mound. They are kids and sometimes it is very difficult for them to harness their emotions. Glasnow got his wake-up call when he was traded. Since then, he has matured into a pitcher who believes in his stuff and will trust that the Catcher knows the proper location of each pitch.

Bull Durham!


Sad thing for Tyler was that not long after the trade started having arm issues and missed a most of 2019, pitched in an abbreviated 2020 season then TJ in 2021. Hope for his sake that his arm stays healthy and and only got to show that top tier talent for a few short months in his career.


Thanks for the article. Some good info that gives insight into how stats do not tell the whole story for minor league players, especially pitchers. Hope the 2.10 ERA in the 25.2 innings going down the stretch prior to the IL stint are a hint of what is to come in 2023.


I think I read his BABIP was something close to .400 early on in AAA. Explains the high ERA.

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