31. Greg Burns - Outfield - 6'2 - 185lbs - Throws: Left - Bats: Left
(last year: 22)
It’s hard to believe, but Greg Burns is going to be just 22 and there is a good chance that he is the starting center fielder in Double-A Carolina in 2009. He’s been talked about by scouts since signing as a 17 year old a few years ago. Still as of now, Greg still hasn’t put together that break out campaign but some believe Carolina may be his launching pad into being that lead-off prospect many believe he will someday be.
Burns finally showed some of what scouts have been talking about since he was drafted a few years ago. He set career highs in batting average, obp, slg, ops, rbi, sb, walks, hits, doubles, and homeruns. He definitely showed some maturation as he left his teen years behind. One that that went up which was a bad thing was that his strikeout rate increased a little. His 122 strikeouts were 13 more than his previous high. In 2008, his strikeouts would again increase to a staggering 143.
The Marlins drafted Greg with the 98th overall pick (3rd round) of the 2004 amateur draft. He was signed for $395,000 and was quickly compared to a young Kenny Lofton but with more gap power. His speed was graded an 80 on the 20/80 scale by all scouts, as he can get from home to first in a lighting fast 3.9 seconds. He has showed much improvement in his base-running since coming becoming a professional, stealing 73 bases in his last 91 attempts. He has worked on his jumps while trying to learn how to read pitcher’s movements better and the results have been positive.
At the plate, Burns has a real clean swing. He has very strong hands which tend to make some scouts believe he could develop into a 10-15 homerun guy down the line. Just out of his teens, he still has a projectable body and should gain some more strength to all fields as he matures. He is a very coachable player that just wants to keep getting better. It was suggested by Assistant GM Jim Fleming, for Greg to bring a 4×4 piece of wood with him into the batting cages to properly align his feet. He did that no questions asked. Not coincidentally, his numbers began to improve late in the year. In August of 2006, he hit .299/.379/.468 which helped him end his 2006 season on a high note. Definitely a positive in his career so far is his willingness to take a walk. Plate discipline is so hard to teach, and while he strikes out more than he should, him being able to take a walk certainly improves his prospect stock.
In the field, Burns is a plus defender out in centerfield. We all know about his tremendous speed, and because of that he has great range as well. Add in his good instincts, and he can get to any ball that stays in the park. He has a strong and accurate arm, even though he has a bit of a funky delivery. 2007 was a very big year in the development of Burns, while 2008 was a step in the wrong direction. He could start the year in either Carolina or Jupiter, depending on if the front office wants to challenge Burns further or believe he will need a second season in high-A ball.