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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 16: Sean Burke

Somehow, this arm fell to the White Sox in the third round!

The White Sox were thrilled to find Sean Burke still available in 2021’s third round, and he’s been a treasure so far as a pro.

Sean Burke
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
230 pounds
Age: 22
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 5

Sean Burke was quite the athlete while playing for St. John’s H.S. (Worcester, Mass.). Not only did he play baseball, he averaged 22 points per game as its starting center. On offense, Burke hit nearly .400 while driving in 17 runs as a senior. Oh, lest I forget, he went 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA while striking out more than a hitter per inning during his junior year (2017) in helping his Pioneers win the Massachusetts Division 1A Super 8 Championship. Ultimately, despite various recruiting offers, he opted to play his college ball in the Big 10 for the Maryland Terrapins.

Unfortunately for Burke, his college career got off to a late start, as he didn’t play ball in 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. He started four games as a redshirt freshman in 2020 and did exceptionally well (a 2.38 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 22 2⁄3 innings) before the pandemic shutdown. Then in 2021, as a redshirt sophomore, Burke posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 14 games (13 starts). In his 74 1⁄3 innings for the Terrapins, he relinquished just 48 hits and 42 walks (5.09 BB/9) while fanning 107 (12.96 K/9). Due to concerns about his control and perhaps his injury past, he fell to the third round, where the White Sox were ecstatic to land him.

Just turning 22, Burke is actually quite young for a college draft pick. He was the same age as much of his competition in the ACL, and about a year younger than his opponents while with Kannapolis. In two starts for the ACL Sox, he was eased slowly into the rotation, as he allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out five. Then, after a promotion to Kannapolis on August 23, he posted a 3.86 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in five starts totaling 14 innings; in that body of work for the Cannon Ballers, he ceded nine hits and 10 walks while striking out 20.

The biggest strength in Burke’s arsenal by far is his fastball, and it’s one of the best of this class. It has a top speed anywhere from 92 to 95 mph, with an ability to push up to 98 on occasion by using his big frame. The heater has great velocity and movement (especially for a fastball), and helps make the case that it is potentially one of the best pitches in this draft.

Burke’s other strong pitches are his curveball and slider. The slider is a newer pitch that he was throwing quite a bit during the 2021 season. Both pitches show flashes of brilliance with nice movement, and look like they have a good chance at being quite effective as Burke develops.

He does have weaknesses in his game. While the aforementioned breaking balls can flash, more often than not they won’t make a huge impact. There are scouts who have said they wish Burke would focus more on one of those pitches instead of both. His changeup is a pitch that looks like it has the potential to be special, but the main problem is that Burke simply doesn’t throw it enough to give it that chance.

The biggest weakness in Burke’s game is his control. Burke had a big problem with walks during his career at Maryland, with 56 total across his two years, and he carried that problem over to his short stint with Kannapolis. This will be something to work on in order to make his way up through the minor leagues.

MLB Pipeline gives Burke grades of 55 are given to his fastball, slider and curveball, while he receives a lower grade for the changeup. He’ll need to develop that changeup against lefties, who hit him at a .261 clip (he was a righty’s worst nightmare in A-ball, hitting only .125 against him) during his short stay with Kannapolis. Unsurprisingly, he’s given a low grade of 45 for his control.

Expect Burke to join the loaded rotation at Winston-Salem next year.

2022 South Side Sox Top 100 White Sox Prospects

16. Sean Burke, RHSP
17. Jimmy Lambert, RHSP
18. Caleb Freeman, RHRP
19. Luis Mieses, RF
20. Kade McClure, RHSP
21. Tanner McDougal, RHSP
22. Jason Bilous, RHSP
23. Wilfred Veras, 1B
24. Lenyn Sosa, SS
25. Jonathan Stiever, RHSP
26. Brooks Gosswein, LHSP
27. Misael González, RF
28. Terrell Tatum, CF
29. Carlos Pérez, C
30. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
31. Luis Basabe, RF
32. McKinley Moore, RHRP
33. Emilio Vargas, RHSP
34. Blake Rutherford, LF
35. Anderson Severino, LHRP
36. DJ Gladney, 3B
37. Luke Shilling, RHRP
38. Chase Krogman, LF
39. Cristian Mena, RHSP
40. Benyamín Bailey, LF
41. Tyler Johnson, RHRP
42. Andrew Perez, LHRP
43. Tyler Neslony, LF
44. Theo Denlinger, RHRP
45. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
46. Jefferson Mendoza, C
47. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
48. Gil Luna Jr. LHRP
49. John Parke, LHSP
50. Victor Quezada, 3B
51. Haylen Green, LHRP
52. Sammy Peralta, LHRP
53. Yoelvin Silven, RHRP
54. Taylor Broadway, RHRP
55. Noah Owen, RHRP
56. Luis Curbelo, 3B
57. Bryce Bush, RF
58. James Beard, CF
59. Xavier Fernández, C
60. Wilber Sánchez, SS
61. Kohl Simas, RHRP
62. Johan Dominguez, RHSP
63. Jagger Rusconi, 2B
64. Ronaldo Guzman, LHSP
65. Laz Rivera, 3B
66. Adam Hackenberg, C
67. Will Kincanon, RHRP
68. Lane Ramsey, RHRP
69. Tommy Sommer, LHSP
70. Randel Mondesi, RF
71. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
72. Zack Muckenhirn, LHRP
73. Cameron Butler, CF
74. Godwin Bennett, RF
75. Logan Glass, CF
76. Dario Borrero, 1B
77. Craig Dedelow, RF
78. Carlos Hinestroza, RHRP
79. Gunnar Troutwine, C
80. Kade Mechals, RHSP
81: Caberea Weaver, CF
82. Layant Tapia, SS
83. Homer Cruz, RHRP
84. Kaleb Roper, RHSP
85. Jerry Burke, RHSP
86. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
87. Isaiah Carranza, RHSP
88. Davis Martin, RHSP
89. Tyler Osik, 1B
90. Samil Polanco, 3B
91. Manuel Veloz, RHRP
92. Pauly Milto, RHRP
93. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
94. Colby Smelley, C
95. Manuel Guariman, C
96. Everhett Hazelwood, RHRP
97. Garrett Schoenle, LHRP
98. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
99. Anderson Comas, RF
100. Jake Elliott, RHRP