Player: Nick Burdi
Drafted by: Minnesota Twins
DOB: 1/19/1993 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 220 pounds
Previously Drafted: 2011, 24th round by Minnesota Twins
Owner of the best fastball in the 2014 draft class, Nick Burdi could also end up holding the distinction of being the first player in this year's group to play a Major League game. He has three pitches for any team that wants to try him as a starter, but the lack of a consistent third offering and some effort in the delivery make him an ideal closer.
Arm strength is nothing new for Burdi, who was drafted by the Twins three years ago thanks in large part to his ability to throw really hard. He didn't sign because of how far his stock fell when teams realized pitching, not just throwing, was going to be a long developmental task.
Now, three years later, he is going to be an MLB pitcher. The only question is how long it takes him to get there.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Big, physical right-hander is an intimidating presence on the mound; stands tall at 6'3", 220 pounds and makes excellent use of that height to generate huge velocity with the fastball; not fancy or deceptive to the plate, taking very little stride to the plate and using a lot more arm speed than leg action to throw.
Delivery has some effort, leading to long-term concerns about ability to sustain velocity and durability, but he hasn't had any problems in three years at Louisville; college junior projected to be a reliever, no sense in tinkering with something that's proved to work.
Big-time pitch that routinely touches triple digits and has been clocked on stadium guns as high as 103 mph may be hot, but I wouldn't doubt he's capable of getting up there; has good life, making it even more difficult to pick up out of his hand; has grown into a strong strike thrower but does have erratic tendencies due to delivery.
The slider is a true knockout weapon already and will be a swing-and-miss offering against professional hitters; doesn't have Matt Harvey's consistency, but the velocity and shape will look the same when he's throwing it for strikes; sits in the high 80s and will touch 90 with tremendous late tilt; excellent understanding of how to set up hitters with the fastball before unleashing the monster.
Burdi has a changeup in his back pocket, but it's nothing more than a show-me pitch; he will bust out the changeup if hitters are sitting on heater; leads to mistakes because he's speeding up bats while throwing a slower fastball; very straight and only works due to separation from the fastball; doesn't have shape or fade to fool hitters.
Power right-hander has become consistent at throwing strikes; tends to leave a lot of fastballs over the middle of the plate, but velocity and movement make it difficult for hitters to square up anyway; getting ahead of hitters with the fastball is critical for success, because lack of third pitch limits weapons to use.
Burdi is always going to be a fringe-average command guy because of the effort in his delivery; needs to execute both of his pitches with more regularity in professional baseball to reach full potential; sky is the limit for him out of the bullpen if he learns to hit the glove instead of just reaching back and firing.
MLB Player Comparison: Kenley Jansen
There's no mystery about what Burdi is going to do on a mound, similar to the way Kenley Jansen attacks hitters with a big fastball and mixes in an occasional slider. Burdi will use the breaking ball more often to get outs, but he can get away with a lot of fastballs because of the velocity and movement.
Projection: High-leverage reliever/closer on first-division team; occasional All-Star
MLB ETA: 2015
Chances of Signing: 90 percent
Some college juniors might benefit from a return to school. Given what we know about relievers and how volatile they can be from season to season, Burdi's stock is never going to be higher than it is right now. He has a limited ceiling as a reliever, but getting into pro ball is the smartest thing he can do.