Name: Charcer Burks
Age: 20 (3/9/1995)
How Acquired: Drafted in the 9th round in 2013, # 258 overall. Scouted by Trey Fokerway. Signed for a reported $170,000.
Status: Rule 5 eligible after 2017 season
Charcer Burks’ numbers may have dipped over the final month of the season but the 20-year-old outfielder didn’t do anything to hurt his development towards the big leagues. The Cubs are loaded with outfield prospects and Burks is one of the better all-around athletes, possessing good speed and the ability to utilize it on defense and the bases.
Considered one of the top defensive backs in the Houston area his senior year and a star shortstop at Travis High School, Burks made it clear he wanted to play baseball and the Cubs came calling in the ninth-round after hitting .437 with 6 HR, 31 RBI, .827 SLG, and 22 SB as a senior.
Burks made his pro debut for Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League July 1 vs. Dodgers, entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth (strikeout) and stayed in to play center. 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 strikeout at a rate of 26.2% but showed 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. He showcased his plus speed, stealing six bases in seven attempts, and finished up his first pro year at fall instructs
Burks was back in the Arizona Rookie League for the start of 2014 but that didn’t last long. 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 steady 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 dropped to 19.9 % at Boise.
In his first year at a full-season affiliate, Burks displayed his skills at South Bend, appearing in 116 games and earning al-star honors. He got off to a great start in April, batting .309/.382/.368 in 19 games and added a 12-game hit streak in May. Hitting .282 on July 26, Burks only collected 18 hits over his final 100 at-bats and ended the year with a line of .251/.339/.347. He had seven games with three hits and ended the season with 28 multi-hit games. He led South Bend with 51 walks and was second with 112 hits, 28 stolen bases, and 63 runs scored. Burks created his own highlight reel on defense, making 73 starts in left and 29 in center. He had 221 chances for a .991 fielding percentage, throwing out four runners.
Tools and 2016 Outlook
Burks should be headed to Myrtle Beach when the squads break camp this spring and spend his time patrolling left and center. With a log jam of outfielders already at the lower levels, Burks will need to put together another solid season in High A to establish himself. He will also need to finish the season strong as its likely he spends the entire year in the Carolina League. The only tool he’s really lacking is power, as he’s a plus runner and showed last year the ability to put the ball in play and string together quality at-bats. He did show some gap power with 22 doubles and four triples. His 28 steals was third in the Cubs minors and also displayed good base running instincts. Hitting leadoff in 66 games, Burks hit .278/.339/.391 and sported a slash of .260/.357/.390 leading off an inning. He is one of the few true leadoff hitters in the Cubs minors that combines good on-base skills and speed.