Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Badenhop joined the Tigers as a 29th round selection in the 2005 June draft, after a successful four-year career at Bowling Green. Burke's final college totals, pitching in the MAC, included a 5.37 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, and a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. After his sophomore season, Burke was named as honorable mention for the All-MAC Academic Team while posting a 1-4 record in 20 relief appearances. He continued his exceptional academic ways by being named All-MAC Academic team again as a junior and senior at BGSU. His senior season saw him named as an Academic All-American. His academic and athletic achievements did not go unnoticed by Bowling Green, as he was named the Junior and Senior Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
Burke made his professional debut with the Oneonta Tigers in 2005, notching a 2.92/1.23 line and a 6-4 record. In September of that year, he was named the MiLB.com NYPL Pitcher of the Week for his 7-inning gem to close out the 2005 campaign. While at West Michigan in 2006, Badenhop's success continued, as he logged 171 innings; good for 2nd in the Midwest League. Burke tied for the League lead in wins (14), and ended the season ranked in the top ten in games started (27), ERA (2.84), and WHIP (1.18). He took home back-to-back TigsTown West Michigan Pitcher of the Month Awards in July and August, and finished the year by being named the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year by the Detroit Tigers.
Burke's arsenal is not one that will ever "Wow!" scouts or passers-by, but he can be effective when he remains aggressive. If he can refrain from nibbling at the corners, and challenge hitters to put the ball in play, Burke has the ability to generate outs with the best of them. He generates plus movement on his 88-90 mph fastball that touches 92 occasionally, and can spot it to all four quadrants of the strike zone. His change-up is a certain plus offering, with great arm-action and some tough arm-side fade late in the zone. His ability to use and command his change-up regularly allows him to keep left-handers at bay. Burke's curveball is an average offering that could use some increased command and depth.
Quite possibly Badenhop's most noticeable asset is his poise on the mound. He approaches pitching with the mentality that he is in control of the game, and rarely waivers from that mindset. He understands his role within the game and typically makes the correct play defensively. He is an athletic player – his farther played basketball at BGSU in the 70s – and he uses this to his advantage in repeating his mechanics with ease. Burke profiles as a back of the rotation starter and innings eater down the line.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
Badenhop has been the model of health since turning pro; a trend that continued from his days at Bowling Green. His mechanics are clean, and while pitcher injuries are notoriously unpredictable, there is little to suggest any imminent concern.
Burke will head to High-A Lakeland to start the 2007 season, with a slim shot of reaching AA-Erie before the close of the campaign. If the new coaching crew at Lakeland can continue to convince him to remain aggressive and attack hitters – as AJ Sager and Matt Wallbeck were successful in doing last year – Badenhop should continue to experience success as a pro. He will face the challenges of slightly more advanced hitters and a bit smaller ballpark, but I expect his success to continue while at Lakeland. Badenhop's long term prognosis will depend heavily on his own ability retain command of his arsenal and attack every hitter. If he can continue to do this, he could see himself knocking on the door to Detroit by the close of the 2008 season.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.