Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
SSS rank among all right-handed relief pitchers in the system: 1
2021 SSS Top Prospect Vote: 13
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 23
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 15
2018 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 7
Zack Burdi, a native of suburban Downers Grove, excelled in his three years with the Louisville Cardinals. In his junior season, he saved 11 games with a 3.30 ERA and 0.87 WHIP by allowing just 17 hits (.167 OBA) and nine walks (7.7%) while fanning 47 (40.2%).
Upon being drafted with the 26th pick in 2016, Burdi quickly rose from the AZL White Sox to Charlotte. In this whirlwind year for Burdi, he pitched 26 games totaling 38 innings and posted solid 3.32 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. It certainly looked like he’d make it to the White Sox sooner rather than later.
Burdi scuffled a bit with Charlotte in 2017, which wasn’t totally surprising with it being his first full year in professional ball. In 29 games spanning 33 1⁄3 innings, he compiled a 4.05 ERA and 1.41 WHIP by relinquishing 30 hits (.231 OBA) and 17 walks (11.3%) while striking out 51 (33.8%). Unfortunately for Burdi and the White Sox, he underwent Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss nearly a full season of development. He did get in some rehab action late in the 2018 campaign with the AZL White Sox, but his velocity unsurprisingly wasn’t close to what had been pre-surgery.
The 2019 season saw Burdi at Kannapolis and Birmingham, but he struggled with a 6.75 ERA and 1.85 WHIP in 20 outings totaling 22 2⁄3 innings. He allowed 28 hits (.292 OBA) and 14 walks (12.6%) while fanning 30 (27.0%) in those innings. If you take away a three-game stretch in late May, Burdi’s combined ERA and WHIP would’ve been just 4.50 and 1.61 WHIP. His velocity was actually in the upper-90s when he went on the shelf in late June. This time, surgery was needed to repair a torn tendon in his patella.
In 2020, Burdi completed his long road back from TJS and other maladies in making his MLB debut for the White Sox, quite memorably at home, with his parents on the TV broadcast via Zoom. The reliever had a splendid debut, but a rough run in his eight-game audition, pitching 7 1⁄3 innings to an 11.05 ERA and 1.909 WHIP.
Burdi got an invite to major league camp this spring, and was an early cut after giving up six walks and two homers in four innings/four games. It seems as if Burdi will not be the first reliever arm called up from Schaumburg when the need arises in 2021, but should have time to regather himself in Charlotte this summer.
For kicks, here’s a fun piece from Trevor Lines at SSHP with Burdi last year, and an SSHP/SI look back at Burdi’s MLB debut.