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Originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2015 out of Arizona State University, Ryan Burr made it to High-A Visalia earlier this summer before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in August for international bonus pool money. Spanning three teams before and after the trade this year (Low-A Kane County, Visalia, and High-A Winston-Salem), Burr had an extremely good year out of the bullpen, appearing in 45 games and finishing 2-2 with six saves and a 1.65 ERA. Over 65.1 innings pitched, the former Sun Devil allowed just 47 hits and 26 walks while striking out 88 batters (12.1 K/9). Over three minor league seasons across his career, the burly righty is now 7-4 with nine saves and a 1.84 ERA over 87 relief appearances. In that span, he has whiffed 157 hitters in 122.1 innings pitched (11.6 K/9).

To that end, Ryan Burr is pretty much the type of power reliever you’d expect: a hard fastball, a tight slider, and a no-nonsense tendency to challenge hitters late in close games. Listed at 6’4″ and 225 lbs., Burr weighs all of that and then some with broad shoulders, big sturdy legs, and a thick midsection. There’s no room there for ‘good’ physical growth, but some mechanical refinement may give him a bump in velocity even above his already mid-90s stuff. Below, we’ve got bullpen and game video of the relatively new Chicago White Sox prospect, as well as a full scouting report, tool grades, and some notes on his future projection.

Ryan Burr, Chicago White Sox — 2017 Scouting Report

Dates observed in 2017: July 21; July 23; August 9

Fastball (70)
Legitimate double-plus fastball, both in gun readings and pitch life. Not only good working and max velocity, but good late arm-side movement with occasional sink. Tall frame and overhand release with a significant pulldown aid to give Burr exceptional downward plane. Pitch rides hard in on righties, and explodes to the plate out of his hand. When up in the zone, it gives the sense it’s rising; very difficult for hitters to get to it in the upper quadrant. Good extension at release; can consistently get it to his glove-side even in mid/upper 90s. Some run back over the plate when it’s glove side, but enough velocity to provide a margin of error if it runs back too far in off the corner. All taken together, one of the best High-A fastballs I saw in 2017. Velocity: 92-97, T 98.

Slider (50)
By no means a bad pitch, but it’s a big jump down here compared to his plus-plus fastball. Very tight with some depth, but relatively little break compared to what you’d expect with his release point and arm strength. Will miss some bats, but certainly not a wipeout pitch; almost looks more like a cutter at times and could use a bit more break. As with the fastball, Burr has good extension on the slider, too, and so he can get it glove side and down with consistency. However, he struggles to purposely command it to any other quadrant with the same life. Slider accounted for a fair share of his impressive strikeout totals in 2017, but better hitters should key in on his glove-side-and-down tendency and quickly recognize the slider once they see it tunneling to the same location every time. Velocity: 81-84, T 85.

Changeup (40)
Show-me third pitch; won’t use it much, nor does he need to. Reportedly also threw a curveball in college (as a starter), but smart to effectively cut his arsenal to two-pitches now in short-stint bullpen work. May be able to find some value in having a good changeup against LHH, but Burr has enough feel to both sides of the plate with plus-plus fastball that he can survive with little use of the changeup. Velocity: 84-85, T 86.

Control/Command (50/45)
Generally average control, command overall lags slightly behind. However, Burr has a significant margin for error in both command and control considering his velocity. That said, it’s commendable how well he gets extension out front to hit the target on his glove side without sacrificing velocity. Most importantly, he must improve slider command to more than one spot, if only to keep better hitters honest as he reaches the upper minors.

Big, tall frame with long arms; straight overhand arm action and release point with pretty significant pulldown into somewhat violent follow-through. Lands on line and stays on line through release, with modest glove-side follow through. Not quite a max effort guy through his delivery, but not far from it. That said, he shows remarkably repeatable mechanics considering his size and moving parts—a testament to some sneaky athleticism despite his frame. Long arm action in the back that includes breaking hands early and swinging ball far down and behind his body; because of that, he doesn’t hide the ball very well, especially from LHH. But, as with command and control, plus-plus velocity gives him some margin for error.

Ryan Burr Scouting Report — 2017 Game Video

Ryan Burr Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

Ryan Burr has one of the best fastballs I saw at the High-A level in 2017, thanks to not only his arm strength, but also some late pitch life that adds to his ability to miss bats and draw weak contact. Beyond that, though, there’s some work to do before he winds up a legitimate late-inning bullpen prospect, even considering his impressive 2017 numbers across two levels and three affiliates in two organizations. The Chicago White Sox did their homework to scout Burr and pull the trigger on the trade, and there’s a lot to like here, but they righty must improve his slider if he’s going to be expected to throw in high-leverage situations in the upper minors and, soon, the big leagues. Velocity will always draw notice, though, and so Ryan Burr is going to get his fair share of chances simply because he’s flirting with triple digits. Further minor mechanical refinements (avoiding glove-side fall-off after release, subtly tightening back-side arm swing, etc.) may help Burr bump up even a bit more on the radar gun, giving him an even higher ceiling.

Ryan Burr Scouting Report — Future Projection

Reports from his college days indicate Ryan Burr has long struggled with developing above-average off-speed stuff to match his impressive fastball. Assuming some truth there about his Arizona State days, then, his history suggests he may never quite develop the secondary stuff you’d hope for in an eight-inning set-up man. Even with a truly impressive fastball, that’ll hold Ryan Burr back some, and the Chicago White Sox may find him more apt for a seventh-inning type of role — still short-stint high-leverage, but short of the ceiling. Then again, the Pale Hose may well have made the trade for Burr specifically because they have an idea to improve his slider in a way that wasn’t being done at Arizona State or with the Diamondbacks. If that’s the case, then maybe the Chicago White Sox have fleeced a trade for a future closer-type. Until I see a markedly improved slider to that end, though, I’ll stick with projecting a future set-up man role for Ryan Burr.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): High-leverage, short-stint (7th/8th inning) set-up man (50)

MLB ETA: 2019

Read More: Click here for our scouting report on White Sox RHP Zach Lewis


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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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