Silent Burke Leading By Example

PEORIA -- Kyler Burke, a 2006 first round supplemental pick of the Padres who was involved in the Michael Barrett trade with the Cubs in 2007, is a big reason the Class-A Peoria Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot. In August, the Ooltewah (Tenn.) High School product has hit a blistering .341 while clubbing four homeruns, driving in 21 runs, and walking 23 times.

When third baseman Josh Vitters and INF/OF Josh Harrison were promoted to Daytona, a large part of the Chiefs' offense went with them. Burke, however, did not put any more pressure on himself to perform and did not feel as if he had to make up for what was gone.

"I don't think that is fair to do," Burke said. "I just go out and do what I can do and not put any more pressure on myself."

From batting clean-up most of the season, the lefty hitting Burke has remained consistent at the plate. Against right handed pitching, he is batting .303 and has fared almost equally the same against left-handers, hitting .299.

Burke is sixth in the Midwest League in hits (132), but a trait that might be overlooked is his willingness to take a walk. Burke's knowledge of his strike zone places him fifth in the Midwest League with 70 walks and he has the Midwest League's third best on-base percentage at .400.

"I would like to think I've always been patient at the plate," Burke said. "But I think it is something that has developed over time and me being one of the older guys here."

Burke's numbers (.302 average, 13 home runs, 41 doubles, 77 RBI, 14 stolen bases) can speak for themselves and attest to the type of hitter he is and the one he expected to be this season.

By being at the top of many statistical categories in the Midwest League, Burke was recently named to the 2009 Post-Season All-Star roster.

"It's a great honor," Burke said of the award. "There are a lot of great players in this league that have also played on this team. To be named an All-Star means a lot … I think if you don't set goals at the beginning of the season to play well, you are already defeating yourself."

As well as he has played on the field, Burke has been even better off the field, and Chiefs manager Marty Pevey respects what he means to his team in the locker room.

"Kyler is just an outstanding citizen," Pevey praised. "If I had a daughter, he would be the one I want her to marry. He would give you the shirt off his back."

"He plays hard every day," added Pevey. "That's the thing with baseball. Are you a little nicked up or are you broke? Throughout your career, you are going to have a sore knee, or a tender elbow, or a sprained finger. (Burke) never complains. Never says a word. I know he's had a bad wrist all year, but he never says a word about it. Ever."

It is that type of silent strength that has won over his teammates. Burke may not be the teammate to call others out when they are doing something wrong, but he knows teammates look up to how he plays the game.

"I'm not the vocal leader of the team," Burke stated. "I try to lead by example. I just like to go out and play hard. Sometimes guys will come to me and ask about some tips, but I don't like to go to them and tell them what to do."

In the off-season, Burke likes to take his laid-back personality back home and enjoy two other outdoor sports: golfing and hunting.

"I like to golf back home," Burke said. "I also like to hunt. Unfortunately I don't get to hunt around here, but I go hunting back home with my family."

Burke's off-season plans will have to wait for now. The Chiefs wrapped up a spot in the Midwest League playoffs on Thursday, courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Quad Cities.

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