The Cubs have a bunch of interesting outfield prospects in the lower levels of the minors and Burks established himself as one of those in 2014. With the ability to play both center and left, the Houston area native improved his plate discipline and displayed good on-base skills.
Charcer Burks, OF
Age: 19, (3/9/1995)
How acquired—Drafted in the 9th round in 2013, # 258 overall. Scouted by Trey Fokerway.
Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League, (Rookie (20 G, .308/.343/.446, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 9 SB);
Boise Hawks, Northwest League, Short-season (37 G, .313/.416/.391, 0 HR, 20 RBI, 4 SB)
Prior to Cubs
A two-sport star in the Houston area, Burks made it clear to colleges he wanted to become a professional baseball player and that dream became a reality with the Cubs 258th pick in ’13. A two-time all-district first-team performer at shortstop, Burks prepped at Travis High School in Richmond, Texas, hitting .437 with 6 HR, 31 RBI, .827 SLG, and 22 SB. A 5A All-District football player, Burks was considered one of the better defensive backs in the Houston area.
Burks made his pro debut for Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League July 1, entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth (strikeout) and stayed in the game to play centerfield against the Dodgers. He recorded his first hit five days later vs. Rangers, a line drive single to right in his second start. Burks split his time in the outfield between center and left, and didn’t commit an error in 29 games with 39 putouts. He did record a strikeout rate of 26.2% but did show some idea of the strike zone with a 8.2% walk rate. Burks put the ball in play, hitting .269/.344/.641 in 31 games, driving in seven while scoring 13 times. Burks displayed his plus speed, stealing six bases on seven attempts. He finished up the year participating in fall instructs.
After his first spring training and more time in Mesa before the Arizona Rookie League opened, Burks figured he’d seen enough of Arizona and hit his way out of Cubs Park and onto the Boise roster. A career-high four hits on June 22, followed up by his first career homer on June 26 vs. A’s, jump started his season and after 19 games and a .313/.348/.453 slash, was on his way out of town on July 23. In his Northwest League debut, Burks went 1-for-3 and knocked in a run at Everett. He collected nine hits in his first five games and finished the year at .313/.416/.391, including a stretch where he reached base in 11 straight plate appearances. In 37 games, most in right field, he was solid in the field, charged with one error between the two levels, recording two assists. Burks also improved his walk rate 13.5% and K rate 19.9 % at Boise.
The South Bend fans could be in for a real treat this summer if Burks continues to progress like he did at short-season Boise. With the ability to play center, Burks could quickly develop into one of the organization’s top leadoff hitters. He showed the ability to command the strike zone and use the whole field, especially right and right-center. By the end of the season I may be kicking myself that I didn’t have the Houston native ranked higher. The 20-year-old is one of the few high school position players the Cubs have drafted since Theo Epstein came to town.