Ryan Burr has always moved around.
As a kid, Burr was born in Colorado, where he lived for five years. He then spent five years in Utah before moving to Belgium for three years. During those years—ages 11-13 for Burr—he played on the Belgian Little League team that lost to the Saudi Arabian team that wound up in Williamsport, Pa. He also learned some French in Belgium and, though he wouldn't call himself fluent, he said knows the language well enough to get by.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound righthander is back in Colorado at Highlands Ranch High. But he'll be doing some moving this summer, too.
Burr helped the USA Baseball 16U team win a gold medal last year against Mexico in the COPABE Pan Am 'AA' Youth Championships by going 1-0, 1.13 with 14 strikeouts and four walks over eight innings in the tournament. But he's not returning to USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars this summer for a shot at making the 18U team. Instead, he'll be in Amelia, Ohio with the Midland Redskins.
"It was a tough decision because anything with USA Baseball is definitely an honor," Burr said. "But I just felt like it would be better for me to play in front of my adviser (Midland coach Kris Glazier) and guys who are going to be looking at me in the draft. And I'll get to go to the Connie Mack World Series with my team. It was a big commitment, but I'm happy with the choice I made."
Burr will be moving again soon, this time up draft boards.
He came out to the mound at City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers, slowly brought his hands up over his head and then crow-hopped down the mound to fire a missile for his first warm-up pitch.
"It's something I picked up from another kid in Colorado, Kevin Gausman," Burr said. "It just kind of looked cool, so I started doing it. I mean, I don't want to take his swagger or anything, but it just kind of stuck. Maybe it adds to the intimidation factor a little bit."
During his two innings of work, Burr sat in the 91-93 mph range and topped out at 94. He has a little bit of a wrist wrap, but it didn't prevent him from throwing strikes with his fastball to both sides of the plate. Burr looked fearless on the mound and also mixed in a nice, tight 75-77 mph curveball with sharp 12-6 break.
"I felt pretty good. It was my first good outing in the past couple weeks, so I was happy about it," Burr said. "I just tried to dominate with the fastball early and then come back with the curveball and break it off and get them to bite at it. I've actually played against a lot of these kids before, so I kind of know their tendencies a little bit."
He showed flashes of an 82 mph changeup, but the pitch is something Burr knows he needs to improve.
"Scouts tell coaches of mine all the time that I have a lot of potential, but guys that are everyday pitchers in the big leagues have three pitches they throw for strikes and right now I'm kind of shaky with the changeup, so that's what I need to work on the most," Burr said. "Plus, I'm always working to get in better shape."
• One pitcher actually stood out more than Ryan Burr on the first day of PG National, and that was Clate Schmidt from Allatoona High in Acworth, Ga. Schmidt, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound righthander committed to Clemson, sat in the 92-94 mph range over his two innings and topped out at 95. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and has a whippy arm with incredible hand speed. Schmidt also mixed in a hammer breaking ball between 79-82 mph. He is also a switch-hitting shortstop, but his future is likely on the mound.
• Righthander Jake Cosart from Clear Creek High in League City, Texas is the younger brother of Phillies prospect Jarred Cosart and showed similar arm strength. . . sort of. Jake has a smaller frame than Jarred, at just 6-foot-1 and 145 pounds. But he has long arms and hit 98 mph on PG's gun on a throw from the outfield during morning workouts. Throws from the outfield are typically a few miles an hour faster than what a player would record as a pitcher, because outfielders have the benefit of getting a running start on their throws. But, scouts were still excited to see Cosart on the bump. When he did take the mound, though, he was mostly in the 85-87 mph range. The heat—combined with the fact that he'd already thrown a lot as a position player before pitching—may have taken a toll on his skinny frame, but there's more in that arm than what he showed today.
• A few players put on impressive shows in batting practice: Outfielder Jesse Winker from Olympia High in Orlando hit everything hard, including three towering home runs to right field. Eric Neitzel from Gulliver Prep in Miami started off his BP with a couple home runs and infielder Austin Dean from Klein Collins High in Spring, Texas barreled everything up, resulting in lots of line drives and a pair of home runs himself. Outfielder Albert Almora from Mater Academy from Hialeah Gardens, Fla. showed off his sweet swing, as usual, hitting a lot of line drives.
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