White Sox prospect Zack Burdi excited to chase his dream

 
By Russell Dorsey
rdorsey@dailyherald.com
Posted7/3/2016 7:00 AM
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  • After a standout baseball career at the University of Louisville, White Sox draft pick Zack Burdi, a Downers Grove South grad, has taken his 100-mph fastball to Winston-Salem, where he's playing for the Class AA Dash. A lifelong White Sox fan, he's thrilled at the prospect of playing for his hometown club.

    After a standout baseball career at the University of Louisville, White Sox draft pick Zack Burdi, a Downers Grove South grad, has taken his 100-mph fastball to Winston-Salem, where he's playing for the Class AA Dash. A lifelong White Sox fan, he's thrilled at the prospect of playing for his hometown club. Associated Press

Chicago White Sox propect Zack Burdi has always wanted to play for his hometown team.

Growing up in Downers Grove as a lifelong White Sox fan, Burdi dreamed of one day being able to play at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox helped Burdi with that goal when they drafted him in the first round of this year's MLB draft.

A month later, he still can't believe his good fortune.

"The night of the draft, my agent told me and my parents that the Sox would be a possibility," Burdi said. "Never growing up did we think that I would be able to be part of the White Sox organization. I'll forever be grateful to the Sox."

Burdi, whose family still lives in Downers Grove, played two seasons at Downers Grove South High School under head coach Darren Orel from 2012-2013. He thrived in the DGS program as a starting pitcher and a center fielder as well. As a senior, Burdi earned all-state and all-region honors before heading to the University of Louisville, where he joined Chicago area products Corey Ray, Kyle Funkhouser, Nick Solak and Colin Lyman.

"Words can't really describe that (Downers Grove South) program. It allowed me to play with some of my best friends and guys I will talk to for the rest of my life," said Burdi, now 21 years old. "Coach Orel was just an awesome dude on and off the field. He was a great guy that me and my brothers could model our lives after."

While Orel appreciates the kind words from Burdi, coaching him was not a difficult task, he said.

"Zack's a leader and has a tremendous work ethic," Orel said. "I know the community and the guys that I coach really look up to Zack, and the guys who have gone on from Downers South and done well.

"And I'm a Sox fan too, so it's a win-win for me."

Burdi's older brother, Nick, is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-handed reliever who was ranked as the No. 12 prospect in the Minnesota Twins farm system. He's at Class AA Chattanooga, but he has been on the disabled list twice this season.

Since the draft, Zack Burdi has made four appearances for the Winston-Salem Dash and has been lighting up the radar gun, with his fastball topping 102 MPH. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he was a force in college, using a slider and changeup to counter his blistering fastball. His strikeout/walk ratio was 47/9 in 30 innings for Louisville.

There has been speculation that Burdi could join the White Sox later this season to provide the bullpen with some added depth. As much as he would enjoy the opportunity to play for the Sox in 2016, Burdi says he won't let it cross his mind.

"I don't really think about that too much. If you let that get to you or consume your mind, you're not going to play your best baseball," he said. "People can talk about it, but their opinions only mean so much if I can't go out there and produce for my team. So I'm just focused on helping the Dash right now."

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