Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers – #46 Hiram Burgos

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

If it’s true when they say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, then you should be extra ready for today’s installment of the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series. We’re making our way through, day by day, toward Brewers Opening Day at Miller Park on Monday, April 1st.

On this Valentine’s Day, we’re 46 days away from April Fools Day. The man wearing #46 in camp right now for the Milwaukee Brewers is the subject of today’s profile. He is right-handed pitcher…

Hiram Burgos.

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Burgos is listed at 6’0″ and 210 pounds. He hails from Puerto Rico and as such will be pitching for Team Puerto Rico in this year’s World Baseball Classic. He joins Martín Maldonado in the honor of wearing the colors of his homeland.

His participation in the WBC will cap off a whirlwind year for the 25-year-old. Burgos had a decidedly mediocre 2011 season with Class-A Advanced Brevard County. He pitched in 24 games (22 starts) and wound up with a 4.89 ERA courtesy in part to a .302 average against, and 13 home runs allowed in just 119.2 innings pitched. As a result, he was pitching on the minor league side and was sent back to Florida to try his hand (arm?) at A-ball one more time. He wouldn’t last very long as a Manatee.

That’s because Burgos made one relief appearance and then six starts at High-A allowing just four earned runs on 21 hits, six walks, and just one home run. That was good for a 0.87 ERA. In those 41.1 IP, Burgos struck out 41 hitters. Quite the improvement from 2011 where he K’d only 80 in his 119.2 IP. All told, the Brewers wanted to see if he was ready for the next step and Burgos was promoted to Class-AA Huntsville after his May 9th start.

Used exclusively as a starter by the Stars, Burgos compiled a 6-1 record, a 1.94 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, .230 BAA, allowing 68 hits, 28 walks, three home runs, and 18 earned runs, and striking out 77 in 83.1 innings pitched. All of that came in just 13 starts between May 15 and July 24. Two of his first three starts were rough for Burgos as he made the adjustment. In those two starts he had Game Scores under 50 in part by allowing four earned runs in each game. After that he would only allow three earned runs once and one or zero runs eight times. Suffice it to say that Burgos answered the bell at Double-A.

So what would be next for this pitcher who appeared to be on the verge of putting it all together for the first time as a professional? A promotion to Class-AAA affiliate Nashville, of course!

Burgos was promoted to Nashville in advance of his next start which came on regular rest on July 29th. He hit the ground running with a “quality start” of 6.0 innings and two earned runs allowed against the Albuquerque Isotopes. His next outing was on August 3rd and it was far and away Burgos’ worst of the year. He allowed nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits and three walks, striking out only one in just 4.1 IP. None of the hits were home runs but he did surrender a pair of triples. The outing jumped his late-season ERA by 42 points and resulted in just his third loss of the campaign.

Overcoming adversity is an important part of the developmental process as well and Burgos responded right away. His next outing was six innings of scoreless baseball in which he only allowed two hits and one walk while striking out five. He would allow runs in each of the next three outings, including an August 19th game in which he allowed three solo home runs, but all three appearances counted as “quality starts”. Burgos would then finish the regular season with a pair of six inning, scoreless baseball.

His last start came on September 3rd but he wasn’t yet done throwing. Word came down in September from the Brewers that Burgos was being kept “ready” at their facility in Arizona in the event that then current Brewers rotation ran out of innings. That situation never materialized, but that Burgos was specifically mentioned as being the “next man up” certainly was a big vote of confidence in him.

Burgos final, combined line for 2012 reads like this:

10-4, 1.95 ERA, 28 G, 27 GS, 171.0 IP, 128 H, 44 R, 37 ER, 8 HR, 49 BB, 153 K

With additional computed stats of:

.210 average against, 1.04 WHIP, 2.57 BB/9, 8.05 K/9

The next deserved accomplishment in his 2012 came as no surprise when he was officially added to the Brewers 40-man roster for the first time. After a season like the one he put together, he absolutely would have been snapped up in the Rule V Draft had he not been protected. His name has been mentioned all off-season as a starting pitcher whom the Brewers believe in and who they feel could contribute should the need arise.

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And the cherry on top of a year to remember? How about being named as the Brewers organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year?

And now, coming full circle over the last 12 months, Hiram A. Burgos finds himself in big league camp for the first time. He isn’t going to make the Opening Day roster this year, barring a rash of injuries, so let’s just say that right away. That the Brewers even had him pitch at three different levels in the same season was a bit of a departure from standard operating procedure. He’ll start the season in Nashville’s rotation, likely slotting right behind Tyler Thornburg.

Coming with him to that spot will be a four-pitch arsenal. Burgos tells me that he throws a fastball that sits between 88-92 MPH, a change up between 83-84, a cut fastball of 86-87 MPH, and a curveball down around 73 MPH. He commands them all well enough and attacks the strike zone well. His command has been strong throughout his four-year minor league career evidenced in part by his quality walk ratios.

To summarize all of that, let me simply say that you need to pay attention to Hiram Burgos this year. Not just in Spring Training, but also once camp breaks. Take the time to visit nashvillesounds.com on occasion and check in on how he’s doing. His is a name you’ll certainly want to remember going forward.

You can follow Hiram Burgos on Twitter: @Burgos196

Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:

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