Ryan Burr has seemingly gotten lost in the shuffle among other top bullpen flamethrowers in the White Sox system. No more, Burr — welcome to Under the Radar.
Ryan Burr (RHP) — Charlotte Knights
Nearly a year ago (August 11), the Chicago White Sox traded international signing bonus pool money to the Arizona Diamondbacks for this former fifth round pick. At that time, Burr was rolling, rolling, rolling along with the Visalia Rawhide, the D-Backs A+ team. Since the trade, Burr has advanced rapidly, from Winston-Salem to Charlotte, with a stop in-between at Birmingham earlier this year.
Burr (six-foot-four, 225 pounds) certainly possesses an impressive mound presence, and has encountered little traffic since being drafted in 2015 out of Arizona State, where he set the all-time saves record for the Sun Devils. In his first two years of professional ball (with the D-Backs’ rookie squads and Kane County), Burr combined for a 2.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.9 BB% and 29.4 K%. For three teams in 2017 (including Winston-Salem), Burr combined for a 1.65 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.0 BB% and 33.8 K%.
Burr’s numbers this year with Birmingham and Charlotte have been impressive as well, even after factoring his rough month of May. He has combined for a 2.72 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 12.6 BB% and 24.7 K% this year, which are nice numbers, but a bit of a drop-off from last year. However, since June, Burr has made hitters ice-cold by allowing just one earned run, 14 hits and nine walks, while striking out 33 hitters over 25 1⁄3 innings. Since his recent promotion to Charlotte, Burr has allowed two hits and a walk while punching out four over three innings.
Burr, 24, is often overlooked due to the high number of bullpen flamethrowers in the White Sox system. If one’s solely looking at righties, Burr joins an eclectic mix of power arms including Thyago Vieira, Ian Hamilton, Zack Burdi, Carson Fulmer, Jose Ruiz, Tyler Johnson, Matt Foster, Mike Morrison, Victor Diaz (if and when he returns from the DL) and Jose Nin. Burr has enjoyed similar success against lefties and righties throughout his career (they both batted .196 against him in Birmingham this year), so his lack of a consistent changeup hasn’t been much of a hindrance thus far.
Other than competition, control seems to be Burr’s largest obstacle, as he has remained relatively injury-free throughout his career. I alluded to May earlier: In 11 1⁄3 innings that month, he walked 12 hitters and surrendered 10 hits while striking out only six, for a combined 7.94 ERA and 1.94 WHIP. Other than that one month, Burr has been consistently outstanding throughout his career.
Burr was listed on MLB’s Top 30 Pipeline for about 10 seconds, prior to the acquisition of Kodi Medeiros from the Milwaukee Brewers, so he’s starting to become better recognized. Burr’s ceiling is somewhere between medium and high; he’s got a medium floor due to concerns with his control. Because he’s not currently on the 40-man roster and he was only recently promoted to Charlotte, I don’t see him earning a shot to the majors in 2018. However, if he enjoys a successful spring training next year, it’s conceivable he could occupy a seat in the White Sox bullpen.