Q&A with Kyler Burke

Perhaps no player in the Chicago Cubs' farm system had as big a turn-around in 2009 as outfielder Kyler Burke. The 21-year-old Burke, a 2006 San Diego Padres first-round draft pick from Ooltewah (Tenn.) High School, had career highs in batting average (.303), home runs (15) and RBI (89) at Class-A Peoria while taking home Cubs Minor League Player of the Year Honors.

Q: You had a terrific season with Peoria after a couple of up and down seasons upon joining the Cubs. What all changed for you this season?

A: Really the biggest thing was confidence; I got my confidence back and tweaked a few things here and there with my swing. I worked a lot on my mental approach and just went out, relaxed and had a good time and stayed consistent throughout the whole year. For me, I think the mental part was huge. There are guys that can play with the talent but you have to figure out for yourself how to take failure and also success. You can't get too high or too low, and that's a big thing. It's nothing you can really do to get there; it just kind of has to happen. For me, I got a lot of confidence back this year and things went smoothly.

Q: How much did it help to be protected in the lineup by players like Josh Vitters?

A: It definitely (helped). It's always better to hit (when you are) surrounded by good hitters and see some good pitches. When guys are hitting, it's contagious. It was definitely fun to watch those guys play and definitely good to be in the lineup with them.

Q: When you say you "tweaked" a couple of things, what are you referring to specifically?

A: In spring training, I changed my stance a little bit. I was kind of straight up so I tilted my upper body a bit. I leaned more toward the plate to help me cover the outside of the plate and see the ball a little better.

Q: What did it mean to essentially be named the best player in the Cubs' minor league system for the entire year?

A: It was a huge honor. There are a lot of great players in the organization and I had heard of the award before, but it's not something we really talk about. (Cubs Farm Director) Oneri (Fleita) called and told me. I was very exciting. It shows what they think of me and it's a good thing they recognize the year I had. There are a lot of great players in the organization and they had some good years, so it's a great honor.

Q: With the year you had, you certainly expect to move up next year. You've been at this level for a couple of years now. Do you see maybe having put yourself in a position to move up not only to High-A but Double-A next spring?

A: That's definitely my goal; to start in Double-A. All I can do is go and have a good spring training. However the numbers work out, it'll take care of itself. I try not to get too caught up in that because if you're playing good, everything else will take of care itself.

Q: Were you happy with your time in Instructs this fall, and what were some of the things you spent the month or so in Arizona working on?

A: Just extra at-bats. Mostly it was a lot of little things, a lot of detail stuff like continuing to work on your situational hitting and things like that. There was a lot of defensive and base-running work.

Q: You're going down to the Dominican in a couple of weeks for the Instructional League there. Is that pretty much an extension of the work in Arizona?

A: Yeah, it's definitely an extension, but also it's going to be a big learning curve for us. The big thing that they want us to go down for is to see where some of those guys come from, the culture, and how it will help us relate to the guys we play with during the season. I'm pretty excited. I've never been out of the country before, so it's going to be an experience and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

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