Often times we see players at all levels who seem poised to break out, but for some reason they just can’t take the next step in their game. That’s what the Tampa Bay Rays have in infielder Carter Burgess, who they drafted in the 28th round in the 2014 MLB Draft.
Burgess seemed on the rise heading into his junior year at Sam Houston State. In his sophomore year, he put up a solid .321/.361/.406 line, not showing tons of power, but putting up nice contact rates and only striking out 25 times. He followed that up with an outstanding 2013 summer in the tough collegiate Northwoods League, hitting .373 with 13 doubles and 5 home runs while walking 11 times and striking out just 10 times. But he took a step back his junior year, hitting just .284/.344/.364. Because of the disappointing season, Burgess fell down boards rather than rising up them. That being said, he still has shown ability with the bat. He isn’t going to hit for a ton of power, but he has good contact ability and he rarely strikes out, although he could stand to draw a few more walks. Burgess likely is never going to do a ton with the bat, but it should be fine in a utility role.
Defensively, Burgess has seen time at shortstop and third base, but third seems to be the better position for him if he is to settle into an everyday role. Knowing the Rays, he will more likely be used in a utility role, seeing time around the infield as well as potentially in the corner outfield spots. He may never shock anyone with his defense, but he should be solid enough to handle a utility role.
The Rays are taking a chance in Burgess given his step back last season. However, they see potential in him, and they are going to work hard with Burgess so that he can take the step forward that he couldn’t take from his sophomore to junior year. They have a player who had the potential to shoot up draft boards this spring, but didn’t, and Carter Burgess could turn into an interesting player in this organization because of it.