The Chicago Cubs acquired a moderately nondescript outfielder from the San Diego Padres in the summer of 2007 when they unburdened themselves of uniballing, Zambrano-fighting catcher, Michael Barrett. That outfielder, youngster Kyler Burke, had struggled in his time in the low minors, but was still very young, so the collective shrug of Cubs nation at the move was at least a hopeful shrug.
Flash forward (how disappointing has THAT show been?) to today, and the Cubs must be tickled pink with the move. Burke, just 21, put together a great 2009 campaign at A-ball Peoria after talk that perhaps he should move to the mound.
This year, he batted .303 with 43 doubles, three triples, 15 homers, 89 RBIs and a .405 on-base percentage, and was named the Cubs’ 2009 Minor League Player of the Year. Burke led the Midwest League in doubles, was second in on-base percentage and extra-base hits (61), third in runs scored and slugging percentage, and tied for fifth in RBIs and sixth in batting average.
There’s no more talk about pitching.
“I had struggled a little the year before,” Burke said of his .206 average at Peoria in 2008, which prompted him to be sent back to low Class A Boise. “I had a pretty good arm. It was one of those things where I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to start hitting or move to the mound.’ I had to make up my mind.
“I got my mind right,” he said. “It was time to put up or shut up. I said, ‘You know what, if it doesn’t work, I’ve got a chance to pitch,’ and that took some of the pressure off me a little bit. I used it as motivation, and took it and had a good year, and here I am now.”
Having already participated in the Cubs’ instructional league in Mesa, Ariz., which wrapped up Oct. 17, on Tuesday, he will travel to the Dominican Republic, along with seven other Cubs Minor Leaguers, for another month of baseball. cubs.com.
That Burke was selected for the Arizona Fall League indicated he was thought of as one of the Cubs’ better prospects. That Burke was selected for the Dominican camp indicates he is thought of as one of the Cubs’ top prospects. Realistically, he’ll likely start out 2010 in High A Daytona, with an eye to finishing the season in AA Tennessee, and a chance to make the Cubs in 2011.