The Billy Burns show is coming to the big leagues.
The Midland RockHounds' outfielder received a surprise big league promotion on Monday, when outfielder Craig Gentry landed on the disabled list with a broken hand. Burns joins the Oakland A's as the Double-A level's leader in stolen bases with 51 in just 56 chances. When Burns makes his debut, he will be the first rookie to appear in a game for the A's this season. Rookie Arnold Leon was on the roster for a double-header earlier this year, but he didn't appear in a game.
Burns was batting .250/.333/.330 with 44 walks in 91 games for Midland this season. He had a hit, a walk and two stolen bases for the RockHounds versus Corpus Christi on Sunday. Burns joins the A's in Houston, where they will begin a series versus the Astros.
Burns was acquired by the A's for reliever Jerry Blevins during the off-season. The Mercer alum was the Washington Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year last season when he hit .315 and stole 74 bases. Burns got off to a slow start this season as he battled an oblique injury, but he is batting .260/.351/.385 in July.
Burns was a natural right-handed hitter before the Nationals converted him to a switch-hitter two years ago. This season, Burns is batting .270 as a right-handed hitter and .242 as a left-hander. He has game-changing speed and will be a factor for the A's if he can get on base.
The A's will miss Craig Gentry's ability to get on-base and his defense in all three outfield spots. Gentry broke his hand on Sunday during the A's win over the Texas Rangers. Gentry was batting .264 with 18 stolen bases in 19 chances in 80 games for the A's at the time of his injury. It is yet another hard-luck injury for a player who has battled a lot of them during his career.
The A's could be calling on another minor league outfielder in the coming days. Centerfielder Coco Crisp continues to battle a neck strain and he is being re-examined by team doctors. If he lands on the DL, the A's are likely to call on outfielder Shane Peterson, who leads all Triple-A hitters in hits and is batting .324. The A's may also look to acquire another centerfielder before the July 31st trade deadline.