Burke Trying Simpler Approach

In the past week, Class Low-A Boise outfielder Kyler Burke has been swinging the bat as well as he has at any point since the Chicago Cubs acquired him from the San Diego Padres in the Michael Barrett trade last summer.

Burke, 20, entered Tuesday's game at Salem-Keizer with four straight multi-hit games and extended that streak to five games with a 2-for-4 performance.

A Padres 2006 sandwich pick (35th overall) now in his second season as a Cubs farmhand, Burke has 15 hits in his last 30 at-bats, and 12 RBIs in his last 10 games.

The recent tear has been a welcome sight for Burke, who began the year with high hopes only to be sent to extended spring training after just 35 games at full-season Class-A Peoria, where he batted .206.

His recent hot hitting has a lot to do with a change to his swing, Burke said.

"I talked to (Boise manager) Tom Beyers about a week and a half ago and we (agreed) that I'd been struggling quite a bit," said Burke. "He said that we were going to take it back to the basics and try to make my swing as simple as possible."

Part of that process was abandoning a new technique that Beyers and Boise coaches had tried to implement with Burke.

"I had tried to start a small leg kick and it felt good (but) I just couldn't get the timing of it down in games," explained Burke. "So really the only thing that changed was getting rid of the leg kick and going back to my normal load. That's helped my timing out and I'm starting to (square up on) some balls, and good things are happening."

As evidence, Burke has raised his average from a mere .148 to .238 in the past week. His only hitch in that span was a 0-for-6 performance against Everett on June 24. Burke came back the next night with two hits to start a five-game hitting streak.

He said part of his struggles with the bat this season have been mental.

"Some times when I'm struggling, I try to make up for it in one (swing) and you can't do that," Burke said. "You just try to forget about everything that's happened because you can't go back and change anything. You have to take it one pitch at a time."

Though Burke's hitting has been inconsistent this season, his defense has not tapered off. Blessed with one of the strongest outfield arms in the Cubs' system, Burke currently leads all Northwest League outfielders with eight assists.

"I've been pretty pleased with my defense," Burke said. "I've made some plays and it's the kind of thing where when you're struggling at the plate, you really have to focus on defense because that's another way you can help the team.

"If one thing's not working out, you really have to focus on another part."

Burke said he doesn't have any numbers goals from here to the end of the season. With just over a month left, the Hawks are 26-16 and have the league's second best record. But they trail first-place Spokane (32-10) by six games in the east.

"I just want to end on a good note, wherever that may be," said Burke. "I can't throw any numbers out there, so finish strong and end on a positive note."

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