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
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