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Carolina League Top 20 Prospects

By Dave Utnik and Lacy Lusk
September 25, 2002

1. Sean Burnett, lhp, Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates)
As the Pirates' 2001 minor league pitcher of the year, Burnett was anointed as the Hillcats' ace--and he rarely disappointed. A lefthander with a 91 mph fastball and the league's best changeup, the 19-year-old did his part to help create a winning attitude on the field.

"He has a fastball in the 90s, an outstanding curveball and command, which is rare at this level," Winston-Salem manager Razor Shines said. "That's why I think he can pitch in the big leagues at 21 years old."

Of all the pitchers to come out of Wellington (Fla.) Community High in recent years, including fellow first-round picks Bobby Bradley (Pirates) and Justin Pope (Cardinals), Burnett is the most advanced. He gave up more than three earned runs in just two of his 26 regular-season starts, and batters found it difficult to drive the ball in the air against him because he pitches down in the strike zone. He surrendered just four homers in 155 innings.

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