The Milwaukee Brewers sent 13 players to the World Baseball Classic this month, ranking second amongst all Major League teams behind the Minnesota Twins (14). Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy helped the Americans make it past the opening games and Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada played vital roles for team Mexico. But no Brewers player had a better WBC than right-handed pitcher, Hiram Burgos, who pitched for team Puerto Rico.
Burgos finished the WBC with a 1-0 record while recording an ERA of 0.69 in three games and 13 total innings. He struck out 12 batters during the tournament which ranked him third amongst all WBC pitchers as team Puerto Rico finished in second place, after losing to the Dominican Republic in the championship game.
So who is this Puerto Rican hero and Brewers farmhand?
Burgos is a 25-year-old pitcher, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 draft after playing college ball for Bethune-Cookman. Hiram went unrecognized for the first three years of his minor league career as he bounced around the lower ranks of the Brewers minor league system, never appearing above Class A Advanced at Brevard County.
This all led up to a breakout year in 2012. Burgos started the year at Brevard County and finished the season at Triple A Nashville. He was named the Brewers minor league pitcher of the year after posting a record of 10-4 while recording a 1.95 ERA. Hiram pitched 171.0 innings while striking out 153 batters and holding opposing hitters to a .210 batting average.
Hiram features an 88-91 mph fastball and mixes that pitch up well with his cutter, changeup, curveball, and occasional slider. Burgos will not overpower a lot of hitters but he has major-league-ready control as he only walked 49 batters in 2012. Burgos was not ranked on any Brewers top prospects lists entering 2012 but is now ranked as the 14th best prospect in the Milwaukee system by Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook and MLB.com ranks him the Brewers 13th best prospect.
Burgos will most likely begin the season at Triple A Nashville, but he should play a vital role in the Brewers rotation at some point in 2013. Hiram will provide the depth that the Brewers starting rotation has lacked in past years.
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