The Washington Nationals sent their 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, Billy Burns, to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday for left-handed pitcher Jerry Blevins. The 30-year-old Blevins will be missed the A’s have been acquiring plenty of pitching this off-season.
Burns, 24, is a speedy outfielder who has risen quickly through the Nationals’ system since being drafted in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft out of Mercer University in Georgia. It was a rare case of a player worsening his draft position by going to college; Burns was selected in the 16th round in 2008 out of high school.
Burns has shown a tremendous ability to get on base and steal them in his three professional seasons. He’s posted batting averages over .300 in his two years of full-season ball and OBPs over .400. In addition to his exceptional stealing skills (he stole 74 bags in 81 attempts in 2013), Burns has improved his already excellent plate discipline, walking 72 times in 2013 and striking out only 54 times.
Burns’s minor league stats:
|2013||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||WSN||121||540||444||96||140||12||9||0||37||74||7||72||54||.315||.425||.383||.808|
Burns has been quoted by Susan Slusser in the San Francisco Gate that he is “overly excited” to get the chance to work with the Athletics’ baserunning instructor Rickey Henderson in Spring Training. Burns also shows exceptional athleticism and work ethic, learning to switch hit only when he got to the minor leagues. It’s something that few players every do as professionals. Despite being newer to hitting from the left side, Burns still posted fairly even splits from both sides of the plate.
It looks like the A’s, in Burns, are getting a prospect who can do some damage at the top of the order and on the bases while patrolling the spacious grounds in center field at O.co Coliseum.