Happy Halloween, you crazy Braves fans! Today’s entries in Fifty Prospects In Fifty Days include an outfielder with scary speed and a lefty with a slider that could just kill ya!
38. Thomas Burrows, LHP
Age: 23 | Throws: L
2.16 ERA | 2.49 FIP | 38 G, 0 GS | 66.2 IP | 3.38 BB/9 | 12.42 K/9
Current Assignment: Class A Rome
Acquired: Trade w/Seattle Mariners – 2016
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking: NA
Superlatives: OFR Rome Braves Relief Pitcher of the Year
History: Burrows is a Florence, Alabama native who attended the University of Alabama. While there he set a school record for career saves, and was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 draft by the Mariners. Burrows worked in 20 games with the A- division Everett AquaSox after being drafted, pitching to a 2.55 ERA while striking out 37 in 24.2 innings.
In the offseason, Burrows was traded by Seattle to Atlanta along with lefthander Luiz Gohara for outfielder Mallex Smith and reliever Shae Simmons. Burrows was assigned to class A Rome where he spent the entirety of 2017, appearing in 38 games and pitching 66.2 innings to a 2.16 ERA, a key cog in an overall brilliant Rome bullpen last season.
Pitching: Burrows does a good job of leveraging his 6′-1″, 205 pound stocky frame, driving low with good deception that makes the most of his fastball, which typically sits in the 91-93 range. Against righties he’ll also employ a change-up that he disguises well, but doesn’t always command. What makes Burrows worth the price of admission though is a hard-biting slider that is tough on righties and absolute murder on lefties (.165/.268/.259 vs left-handed batters in 2017).
What’s Next: It was somewhat of a surprise that Burrows stayed in Rome all season given his performance, his pedigree, and the Braves tendency toward aggressive promotion, especially with college players. It could be that they wanted consistent coaching for Burrows, which he got from the able Dan Meyers. A year into the system however, there is the possibility of rapid advancement for Burrows, and if he can keep command of his slider it’s not out of the realm of possibility of getting a taste of Atlanta as soon as 2018.
— Andy Harris (@K26dp) April 14, 2017
37. Anfernee Seymour, OF
Age: 23 | Bats: S
.282/.342/.357 | 106 wRC+ | 1 HR | 25 SB | 7.4% BB | 23.5% K
Final 2017 Assignment: Class A+ Florida
Acquired: Trade w/Miami Marlins – 2016
Midseason 2017 OFR Ranking: 42
History: Seymour was drafted by the Marlins in the 7th round of the 2014 draft. An outfielder all through high school, the Marlins converted him to shortstop to help increase his value. Seymour came into the Braves organization in an August 2016 trade that sent lefty reliever Hunter Cervenka to Miami. Seymour was assigned to the Rome Braves where he filled in for the injured Alejandro Salazar at shortstop, but surrendered the job back to Salazar in late August thanks to substandard defense and a meager .266/.298/.278 slash line.
Seymour was reassigned to Rome for Opening Day 2017 and was returned to the outfield, and Seymour admitted he felt less pressure going back to his high school position. Seymour was also installed in the lead-off spot, and he responded by hitting a respectable .287/.345/.352 and set the pace for a track-meet offense that also included speed merchants like Derian Cruz, Cristian Pache, and Randy Ventura. In early May, the Braves had seen enough from Seymour to promote him to high-A Florida to replace Ronald Acuna, who had moved up to AA Mississippi. Seymour kept up his solid production, hitting .280/.341/.358 with 17 stolen bases as a Fire Frog.
After the season, Seymour was scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League, which would have been a great opportunity for him. Unfortunately, he was suspended from the team before the season began for “violation of team rules”. According to one report, it involved “noise complaints”.
Offense: Speed is Seymour’s primary weapon, and he’s likely the fastest player in the Braves farm system. His primary challenge is getting on base enough to utilize it, but Seymour made strides in 2017, and his .342 OBP was the highest of his pro career. Seymour’s swing is long and he can be beat by average velocity, though he showed improved pitch discipline that allowed him to lay off pitches out of the zone more often. Seymour does a good job keeping his swing and approach consistent from both sides of the plate, but to improve he’ll need to work on bringing his hands faster to the ball in order to turn some of his ground balls into line drives. Seymour is strong and could develop consistent gap power.
Despite Seymour’s speed, he was only a 50% basestealer for Florida. This is primarily due to poor crossover technique and telegraphing his intentions.
Defense: Seymour demonstrated some rustiness after not playing in the outfield for three seasons, but his natural speed can cover a lot of mistakes in reading the ball off the bat. Seymour has a strong enough arm that he can hold his own in right field, but is probably best suited for left.
What’s Next: A move up to AA Mississippi will likely be Seymour’s next assignment, and the large alleys of TrustMark Park could play into Seymour’s strengths. Seymour’s speed will play, and if he continues to develop defensively and improve his pitch recognition and basestealing technique he could find himself in the majors as a 4th outfielder/defensive replacement/pinch runner in the Jarrod Dyson mode.