Mariners News: M’s Finally Get an Arm, Draft LHP Thomas Burrows in the 4th


The Mariners opted against adding a pitcher through the first three rounds of the 2016 draft, but that all changed with their fourth pick.

Thomas Burrows has the distinction of being the first pitcher drafted by the Seattle Mariners during the Jerry Dipoto era. The M’s selected the 21-year-old southpaw in the 4th round with the 117th overall pick. Burrows is a junior at the University of Alabama, and has never been drafted before.

The hard throwing lefty has served as the Crimson Tide’s closer for the past three seasons, and he has become a true anchor at the back end of the bullpen. Burrows was filthy in 2016, going 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA and 12 saves across 21 appearances. He posted an impressive 41:9 strikeout to walk ratio in 28.1 innings pitched, and limited the opposition to just 0.99 walks/hits per inning.

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Burrows has been one of the best relievers in the South Eastern Conference in each of the last three seasons. He sports a career record of 7-6 with a 2.21 ERA across 72 appearances since 2014. Burrows’ 30 saves are the new high water mark in the Alabama baseball record books.

The Florence, AL native took his talents to the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer, and he excelled against the best college players in the country. Burrows went 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 1 save across 7 appearances (2 starts) with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. He posted a 21:8 strikeout to walk ratio though 22 innings of work, and allowed 1.32 walks/hits per inning. has provided up with the following bio of Burrows.

"“Alabama has had four left-handers taken in the top three rounds of the first 51 Drafts, and all four reached the big leagues: Bobby Sprowl, Taylor Tankersley, Wade LeBlanc and Adam Morgan. Burrows has the stuff to achieve the same Draft status this June and to make it to the Majors as well. He took over as the Crimson Tide’s closer early in his freshman season and set its career saves record (30) this spring despite missing most of March with an oblique injury. Burrows arrived in Tuscaloosa with a physical frame and is in the best shape of his college career. His stuff is stronger than ever too, with his fastball sitting at 91-93 mph and reaching 95. His heater plays tougher than its velocity because his low three-quarters arm slot creates run and sink plus difficult angle. Burrows’ slider has been sharper this spring too, and his sweeping low-80s breaker has been effective against left-handers and right-handers. Because he doesn’t use a third pitch and lacks consistent control and command, he’s purely a bullpen option. But with his two plus pitches and competitive makeup, he could develop into a high-leverage reliever at the next level.”"

The concept of taking a pure reliever so high in the draft may be a head scratcher for some fans, but I believe the selection of Thomas Burrows was a wise one. The Kansas City Royals have proven the value of a dominant bullpen in recent seasons, and Burrows was remarkably effective this season with the Tide.

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The Mars Hill High School alum possesses a powerful two-pitch arsenal. His mid-90’s heater is reportedly his best offering, but his breaking ball has taken significant strides in 2016. The development of a third pitch is a possibility, but Burrows could likely be an effective reliever in the big leagues relying on just two plus pitches.

Burrows pitches with a bulldog mentality, and he will never back down from a hitter. His funky arm angle combined with his impressive velocity suggests he could one day find work as the Mariners’ 9th inning man. At worst, he has a great chance to be a lefty specialist with Seattle.

Next: M’s Select USD SS Bryson Brigman in 3rd Round

Assuming Thomas Burrows signs with the Mariners, I expect him to begin his professional career with the Everett AquaSox of the Northwest League. He will likely move quickly through the minors, and could even finish the season in Clinton with the LumberKings.