Downers Grove's Burdi making strong pitch to join White Sox bullpen
The Chicago White Sox are going to give their top minor-league prospects plenty of time to hone their skills before bringing them up to the big leagues.
It makes sense from a developmental standpoint, and it also makes financial sense when you consider the Sox are not expected to contend and don't need to be rushing any young player's service time.
With all of that being said, the White Sox have been bringing up one Class AAA Charlotte relief pitcher after another through the first seven weeks of the season.
On April 6, Jake Petricka (strained lat) went on the disabled list and Tommy Kahnle came up from the Knights to take his spot.
On April 25, Zach Putnam went on the DL with elbow inflammation and Chris Beck was summoned from Charlotte.
On May 4, Nate Jones went down with elbow neuritis and David Holmberg came up.
With most White Sox starters failing to make it into the sixth inning, the beat-up bullpen got an additional arm on Monday when Gregory Infante arrived from Charlotte to take ineffective designated hitter Cody Asche's roster spot.
Over half of the bullpen that opened the season with Charlotte is now with the Sox, but Zack Burdi understands why he has not yet received a call.
At this time last year, the Downers Grove South High School product was wrapping up his junior season at Louisville.
Burdi is showing why he was drafted No. 26 overall by the Sox last June, and he's showing why he's eventually expected to take over as the closer for the team he grew up rooting for.
With an 0-1 record, 1.84 ERA and 5 saves in 13 appearances with the Knights, Burdi had a streak of nine scoreless appearances heading into Wednesday night's game against Durham.
Command was an issue early in the season, when the 22-year-old righty had 3 walks in his first 3⅔ innings. Over his last 11 innings, Burdi has 2 walks to go with 18 strikeouts.
"Sometimes I feel like I can play with the hitter and I'm trying to do too much, throwing changeups on a 3-2 count with no one on base when I should just be challenging a guy with my fastball," Burdi said. "I'm learning from it and definitely trying to incorporate it in my game more and figure out not how to attack, but where to put it in certain counts and reading swings. It's not playing around, it's not trying to do too much or be too fancy with it."
With his 100 mph fastball and hard slider under control, Burdi has definitely put himself on the White Sox's radar. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder tries not to think about the future.
"That type of stuff will consume you," Burdi said. "I've had things my entire life that I've been looking forward to, whether it was Team USA my sophomore year or the draft my junior year. I've come to learn that if you just put it in the back of your head and you don't think about it, it's going to shake out the way it's supposed to.
"Whether that's the way you want, that's great, but if it doesn't work out, then you just have to take a step back, take a deep breath and figure out why it didn't work out that way and get back to the drawing board. I'm not trying to let that consume me or take over. It'd be cool if it happens, but if it doesn't, figure out why and fix it."
Scouting reportWhite Sox vs. Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field
TV: Comcast SportsNet Thursday, Saturday, Sunday; WGN Friday
Radio: WLS 890-AM
Pitching matchups: The White Sox's Dylan Covey (0-3) vs. Sam Gaviglio (0-0) Thursday at 9:10 p.m.; Jose Quintana (2-5) vs. Ariel Miranda (3-2) Friday at 9:10 p.m.; Mike Pelfrey (0-4) vs. Yovani Gallardo (2-3) Saturday at 9:10 p.m.; Derek Holland (3-3) vs. Chase De Jong (0-3) Sunday at 3:10 p.m.
At a glance: The White Sox were 4-3 vs. the Mariners last season (1-2 at Safeco Field). Covey is still looking for his first major-league win, but he pitched much better in his last start, striking out nine while allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 4⅓ innings. The Mariners' two best players, second baseman Robinson Cano (quad) and starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (shoulder), are on the disabled list. Heading into Wednesday's game vs. Oakland, Seattle had lost five of its last six. Heading into Wednesday's game vs. the Angels, the Sox were batting .225 vs. right-handed pitching, the lowest average in baseball.
Next: Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, Monday-Wednesday
-- Scot Gregor