No. 26: Alex Burgos, LHP
Alex Burgos was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 Draft by the Tigers out of Manatee-Sarasota CC (Sarasota, FL). After signing, he was assigned to the Rookie League GCL Tigers, where he made 8 appearances as a reliever, compiling a 1.54 ERA across 11 2/3 innings with 15 strikeouts and only 3 walks. He made the jump to Class A-West Michigan in 2011, and put together a very nice year, which shot him up prospect ranking charts. Over the span of 94 2/3 IP (all starts), he had a 2.19 ERA, 1.014 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 and only a 3.0 BB/9. Any way you choose to look at it, Burgos had a very good year in 2011. 2012 saw him hit a bit of a snag as he was assigned to Class Advanced A-Lakeland, and struggled for the majority of the season. The ERA sat at 4.90 across 121 1/3 innings, but what really concerns me is that his K/9 took a nose dive to 5.8, while his BB/9 more than doubled to 6.5. I've heard some reports that the reason behind this numbers jump/dive is advanced hitters were able to lay off Burgos's pitches out of the zone in 2012, while hitters in 2011 were swinging at them and striking out, which would certainly explain both the K/9 decrease and the BB/9 increase. I've also heard that Burgos, while having advanced pitchability and polish, simply doesn't have the stuff (yet) to challenge advanced hitters and get away with it, which forces him to nibble.
Burgos is a diminutive guy by major league standards, standing only 5'11" and weighing in at about 180lbs. He is very much the "prototypical crafty lefthander" in terms of how that phrase is classically understood, but that's just for a basis of comparison in this sense. He owns about 5 pitches and mixes them well, showing a fastball, cutter, curve, slider, and change at various times. The fastball sits in the 87-89 range, showing average velocity at times (90-91), with a small amount of projectability remaining. The cutter is a relatively new pitch for him, but it's become effective as a way to pitch inside to right handed hitters, who otherwise wouldn't be afraid of a below-average fastball on the inner third. He throws both a curve and slider depending on the need, with the curve being the better of the two pitches, occasionally earning 55 projection grades from scouts while the slider is actually pretty bad. Arguably Burgos' best pitch is his change up, which has shown as a plus pitch at times, and is very effective against right handed hitters as it has solid fade and sink to it combined with the deception it gets from being thrown from the same arm slot and arm speed as the fastball. Command wise, Burgos actually does a very nice job of commanding all of his pitches, and he has shown an ability to work in all 4 quadrants of the strike zone with most (if not all) of his pitches. His slider lacks command, but since it's 40 pitch in general, I'd like to see Burgos eliminate it from his repertoire.
Burgos turned 23 just about a month ago, so while he wouldn't really be "old" for Class Advanced A-Lakeland in 2013, his prospect clock is indeed ticking. I'd like to see him repeat the level, but as we know, the Tigers are aggressive and he may be pushed to Class Double A-Erie, depending how his spring training goes. His ceiling is that of a 4th starter, with the more likely landing spot being long reliever/occasional spot starter (I know you're probably screaming ADAM WILK ADAM WILK!!, but trust me, Burgos is better than Wilk). He lacks the projection to become a LOOGY due to the fact that he doesn't have a dominant breaking ball to be used against left handed hitters, so his calling card will likely be more so "innings eater" than "single inning guy". With that being said, I think if Burgos' stuff can catch up to his pitchability and command, the Tigers could have a very nice player on their hands.