Dan Burawa — Yankees, RHP
Age: 22 (turns 23 in December)
Weight: 190 lbs
Draft: 12th-round pick in 2010, St. John’s University
The kind of velocity Burawa brought to the table as an amateur is that of a player who typically goes much earlier than the 12th round, but he came from an under-scouted region and fell into the lap of his hometown Yankees later than he probably should have. It’s also possible Burawa fell due to makeup issues. He was suspended early in his final collegiate season for reasons I cannot uncover. We all do stupid things in college (and in adulthood — right, Catasauqua Police Department?) so I wouldn’t expect that to be an issue moving forward. Burawa signed for earlier-round money ($300,000) and the Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall Leauge this year to further his development so they can get a return on that investment. I had no idea what to expect from Burawa as he trotted out of the Phoenix Muni bullpen last week, and I came away pleasantly surprised.
Body: Burawa is becoming a bit of a porker. The weight listed above (which is the weight listed in the official AFL program) is likely a gross underestimate of Burawa’s gustatorial tendencies. I describe him in my notes as “barrel gutted.” He’s likely to widen as he ages. Does it matter? Not really. Burawa has always profiled as a reliever, so it’s not as if he needs to maintain a high level of cardiovascular fitness in order to pitch multiple innings.
Stuff: The fastball is plus, sitting in the 93-95 mph range when I saw him. It lacked horizontal movement but had nice natural sink, a downward action that occurred late in the pitch’s path toward the plate. He coupled that with an average slider that is quite short but comes in hard at 84-87 mph. As an amateur, Burawa sported a curve and changeup. It’s likely that at least one of those has been scrapped altogether while the other exits purely as a show-me pitch for lefties. Neither of those pitches was good when he threw them, and I saw neither of them last week.
Mechanics: Burawa’s lower half is stiff and inflexible. He does not use it efficiently. As we move upward, the rotation in his hips generates considerable torque and adds to his velocity. The arm action is long and low, putting abnormal stress on the shoulder but it’s also the cause of the sink on his heater. There’s also noise above the shoulders, which is likely the cause of his poor command. These are sins one can live with since we’re just talking about a reliever here.
Conclusion: Burawa is your typical one-and-a-half pitch, nausea-inducing, arm-action pitcher who will make a nice middle reliever for a few years before either blowing out his shoulder or suffering from the sudden, precipitous decline that befalls so many relievers.