Tigers Prospect Profile #28: Alex Burgos

A left-hander on the small side, Alex Burgos had been very successful on the mound, up until 2012, when he for the first saw his ERA balloon along with his walk totals. Can Burgos still find success despite struggling against the High-A challenge he faced in 2012?

Alex Burgos
Position: Lefthanded Pitcher
Height: 5-11
Weight: 180
Born: 12/1/1990
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Acquired: 2010 MLB Draft, 5th Round
Ranking History: #40 (2010), #15 (2011)

The Tigers loved what Burgos brought to the table coming out of junior college and signed him as a fifth round pick in 2010. After debuting with a 1.54 ERA in eight relief appearances with the GCL Tigers, Burgos moved on to Low-A West Michigan in 2011.

Prior to heading for West Michigan, the Tigers held him back in extended spring training on a strengthening and conditioning program. Once in the Midwest League, he dominated through 16 starts, sporting a 2.19 ERA. He allowed only 63 hits in 94 2/3 innings while striking out 89 batters as he toyed with the young hitters of the league.

Moved up to High-A Lakeland in 2012, Burgos struggled to a 4.90 ERA as his walk rate spiked and strikeout rate dipped. He still allowed only 115 hits in 121 1/3 innings, but he walked an uncharacteristic 88 hitters while fanning just 78.

Scouting Report
Burgos is an undersized lefty that fits the basic mold of a soft tosser. He has added strength since signing but remains quite small, leaving him open to continued questions about his durability.

With a fastball that he parks in the 88-90 mph range and touches 91-92, Burgos must work hard to maintain a downward plane to the plate. When he works low in the zone he shows enough angle to be effective, but his control and command have not progressed to the point where he can consistently work the lower third of the strike zone. When he elevates the ball, it flattens out and hitters have a much easier time squaring him up.

He has shown some aptitude for sinking his fastball and that has proven effective when he stays down in the zone. He also shows some feel for taking a little velocity off and cutting the ball, giving him a solid horizontal aspect to his heater.

Perhaps his best pitch is a quality change-up that works in the average to above-average range most of the time. He will flash the occasional plus change-up but those are rare.

Most scouts believe Burgos would be better served focusing on just one breaking ball, rather than mixing in both the curveball and slider. His curveball has shown more promise in the past, reaching the average range and it has the potential to be a reliable pitch. His slider lags behind and is generally below-average when he throws it.

Burgos does a good job mixing his pitches and works hard to keep hitters off balance. He understands that his raw stuff isn't going to overwhelm batters and that he must use his full complement of pitches to be effective multiple times through the order.

The biggest hurdle for Burgos at this time is finding some rhythm with his command and control. He has long stretches where he pounds the strike zone with his entire arsenal, but he also completely loses the strike zone for extended periods of time. Burgos' delivery is not complicated but he is a below-average athlete and struggles to repeat his mechanics and maintain his arm slot.

Without substantial improvement in his ability to throw strikes, Burgos doesn't hold the profile of a starting pitcher. He can eat up left-handed hitters with his ability to mix pitches and get them to chase his cutter and curveball out of the strike zone, giving him some pretty easy projection as a left-on-left reliever.
























Health Record
Since gaining strength as part of a conditioning program in 2011, Burgos has maintained his stuff better as he works into the middle innings of starts. While he made 23 starts and two relief appearances in 2012, there are still questions about his ability to handle six-plus innings every fifth day.

Burgos' future rests on his ability to find the strike zone consistently and then ultimately locate his fastball to different parts of the strike zone. That will be the developmental focus of his 2013 season whether he repeats High-A or moves on to the challenge of Double-A. Burgos could be an MLB option as a lefty reliever in 2014 but if the Tigers want to continue developing him as a starter, he could take longer to realize his potential.

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