The best bat in February is not always the best bat in June MLB Draft. Projection is a fickle thing and scouts are often divided on a given player’s future. Jake Burger went undrafted coming out of high school, but after two years at Missouri State he is a player to keep an eye on for this year’s draft.
Burger’s freshman year saw him hit four jacks with 50+ RBI. He worked hard and took instruction over the next year, underrated assets in light of all the numbers but indicative of the makeup factor the Cubs covet. As a sophomore, the corner infielder cranked out 21 homers and drove in 72 while improving in the field. His performance catapulted him onto the USA Baseball National Team last summer. While Burger did not hit a home run during that time, he did benefit from the experience.
This spring, Burger’s bat is ascending in a draft devoid of big college hitters.
This Week’s Profile
6-2, 220 pounds
Power (21 HRs as soph)
Takes Instruction Well
Areas of Concern
Not the most athletic guy
Lack of speed
What Others Say
MLB.com say this on his prospect page:
Though he went homerless with the U.S. college national team during the summer, scouts still recognize Burger as one of the top power sources available in a Draft class short on college hitters. He generates his pop more with strength than bat speed, and there are some worries about a hitch in his right-handed swing. He controls the strike zone well and makes reliable contact for a slugger, so he should hit for some average as well.
While Burger isn’t the most graceful player, and one scout compared him to Hunter Pence for his ability to get the job done in less than pretty fashion. Despite his large frame, he has close to average speed and decent range at third base. With his solid arm, reliable hands and admirable work ethic, he should be able to stay at the hot corner.
From everything I read over the past week about Burger, what impressed me most was his coachability. With that in hand, Burger definitely has the type of makeup the Cubs want in a player. His coach discussed his work ethic and desire to improve on the USA Baseball site:
“He spent a lot of quality time with our hitting coach Nate Thompson to figure that out. I think some of it is just his natural maturity of his pitch selection, while not trying to do too much has really helped him. It’s helped him get more balls into the air,” he said. “For him right now, it’s not so much mechanical as it is just figuring out how are people trying to get me out, what adjustments do I need to make in my at bat, etc. He just understands the game. He grew up with it and he can talk about it.”
Burger could well establish himself as one of the best college bats in the draft if he has a good season. As a result, he could rise to the back end of the first round. The question is whether other players rise, too.