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Brock Burke Fulfills Draft-Day Promise

Brock Burke had already heard some whispers of comparisons with Blake Snell.

Both are tall, hard-throwing lefties. Both were drafted by the Rays out of high school from western states.

Now, here’s another:

Both are winners of the Rays' minor league pitcher of the year award.

"I was thinking how crazy this is,’’ said Burke, 22. "My first year (in 2014), I was sitting in those seats (at Tropicana Field) watching him get his award. Now things have flip-flopped in three years . . .

"I’m kind of friends with him because we have the same agency. To be able to look up to him and think he got that award, and now I’m getting it, that’s a great accomplishment.’’

Burke certainly earned it, as well as a place on the Rays’ 40-man roster. After a slow start in 2018 at high Class A Charlotte, where he spent the second half of 2017, Burke found his groove and kept rolling, earning an early-July promotion to Double-A Montgomery.

Burke finished 9-6, 3.08 overall—which included a 4-0, 1.35 finish for the Biscuits in his final five starts—while piling up 158 strikeouts, most among Rays farmhands and 14th most across the minors. Tampa Bay drafted him in the third round in 2014 out of Evergreen (Colo.) High.

"He's really kind of a late bloomer who this year really started to fulfill a lot of the potential we’d seen in him ever since we (drafted him),’’ senior vice president Chaim Bloom said. "His velocity jumped. His maturity took a step forward and that showed . . .

"We’re really excited about his future; we feel there is more to come with him.’’

Burke, who throws a fastball he rides up in the zone along with a plus curveball, slider and changeup, said he needed a bit of an attitude adjustment after the first couple rough weeks in Port Charlotte.

"I was definitely struggling in the beginning of the year," Burke said. "I had three or four outings that were really bad. I kind of just rebounded off of that.

"Some of the hitters told me my body language wasn’t too good. They told me some of the things they look for in a pitcher they’re facing. I started to pitch aggressively and not let things get to me."

Brock Burke Jasonwatsongetty

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