Selected 46th overall out of Louisville by the Twins back in 2014, Burdi joined the professional ranks as a power-armed closer who could potentially have a fast track to the big leagues. He’d obliterated the opposition in college, posting a 1.79 ERA while fanning a comical 47% of his opponents during his NCAA career. He looked the part of a big league reliever following the draft, too, climbing to Double-A less than a year after being drafted and posting gaudy strikeout totals along the way.
As is the case with so many flamethrowing young arms, however, injuries intervened. A bone bruise in his upper arm wiped out most of Burdi’s 2016 season, and his 2017 campaign was cut short by Tommy John surgery. The Twins lost Burdi in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft — the Phillies selected him and immediately traded him to the Pirates — and he made his MLB debut with Pittsburgh late in the 2018 season.
Because he spent the bulk of the year on the injured list, Burdi’s Rule 5 designation carried over from the 2018 season into the 2019 season. He pitched just 8 2/3 innings before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery and missing the rest of the year. Burdi returned in 2020 but pitched just 2 1/3 MLB frames before hitting the injured list with an elbow issue that eventually resulted in his second career Tommy John surgery. Burdi finally returned to the mound with the Cubs organization in 2023, but as if the slate of arm injuries hadn’t been difficult enough, he also missed a substantial portion of the ’23 campaign after requiring an emergency appendectomy in late May.
Although we’re coming up on nearly a decade since Burdi was drafted, he’s pitched just 15 1/3 innings in the Majors due to that stunning slate of injuries. The results haven’t been good, as he’s allowed 16 runs in that time. Burdi, however, has a 3.51 ERA in parts of six minor league seasons and has whiffed just shy of 33% of opponents in his professional career (big leagues and minors combined). His durability is an enormous question, of course, but his arm strength is not; in the tiny sample of three MLB innings with Chicago last year, Burdi averaged 98 mph on his heater and reached triple digits at times.
If he can remain healthy enough to emerge as an option for the Yankees, he still has all three…