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Top Prospect Alert

Pat Burrell -- By Robert Sherry

The #1 overall selection in the 1998 draft, Pat is developing into one of the top hitting prospects in the minors. Pat was originally drafted in the 43 round out of Bellarmine Prep (CA) in 1995 by the Boston Red Sox. Instead of signing, Burrell decided to attend the University of Miami. It was the right decision as Burrell developed his hitting to the point that he was the considered the top hitting prospect in college. Pat lead the nation in batting with a .484 average and slugged .948 while leading the Hurricanes to the College World Series in which the eventually fall to LSU. Still, Burrell was named the outstanding player of the Series (This was the series that many of you may remember as it was won by a HR hit off the bat of current Pirates 2nd baseman Warren Morris).

The only question surrounding the now 22 year old, 6 foot 4, 230 pounder righthander was that he did have some back lower back injury as a junior which cost him to miss a total of 28 games. The Phillies took that risk by selecting him #1 and then signing him to a 5 year contract worth $8 million. He then was sent to Single-A Clearwater where he hit.303 in 37 games (132 AB's) with 7 HR's, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 30 RBI, 29 runs scored, 27 BB's, and 22 K's.

In 1999, Pat began and spent most of the season at Double-A Reading where he was a dominating force all season. In 417 AB's, he it .333 with 28 HR's, 90 RBI, 28 doubles, 6 triples, 84 runs scored, 79 BB's, and 103 K's. Late in the season, Burrell was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He struggled in his 33 AB's, hitting just .152 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. However, once the playoffs began against Charlotte (White Sox), Burrell found his stroke and was back to his dominating self, hitting 3 HR's in the 5 game series. He should have had a 4th HR but lost it as, on it's way out of the stadium, the ball struck and killed a bird. After the season, he played in the AFL where he hit .296 (135 AB's) with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 7 HR's, 24 RBI, 18 BB's, and 33 K's.

I have been lucky enough to see Burrell play often (including the playoffs) and just watching him you come away with the feeling that you are watching someone special. He has a great swing. I have read some comparisons to both Jeff Bagwell and Jim Thome. As for power, I like those comparisons, but he doesn't have the crouch at the plate that Bagwell has.

Burrell may start the 2000 season in Triple-A or he could start in Philadelphia. I feel he will start in the minors and be up for good by the All-Star break. He has played 1st base and started playing LF during the 1999 season. At first, I think he will play LF for the Phillies, but in the long run, I see him playing 1st base after Rico Brogna is gone (signed through 2000). By moving him here, the Phillies will have an open OF spot for another very good hitting prospect, Eric Valent, who is in their system. Valent is a natural outfielder.

The Phillies are building a lineup filled with young talent including Bob Abreu, Doug Glanville, Mike Lieberthal, and Scott Rolen. Burrell could be the best of this group.


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