Beau Burrows will get to go back to his Texas home and rest when the West Michigan Whitecaps finish their 2016 Midwest League season. Then, after a five-day respite from the grind of Minor League Baseball, he will head to Florida for instructional league with the Detroit Tigers organization.
The year of learning continues for Burrows, a first-round selection (22nd overall) in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.
Burrows, a 19-year-old right-hander, signed for a bonus of $2,154,200. He is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Tigers organization by MLB.com.
Boasting a 98 mph fastball, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Burrows is working on mastering the four-seamer, two-seamer, change-up and curveball in his first full season of pro baseball. He is 6-4 with a 3.41 ERA, striking out 54 and allowing 77 hits and 28 walks in 87 innings.
"I'm excited to learn and work on my stuff," Burrows said about continuing his development after a brief break. "I've learned a lot here [with West Michigan]. In high school, I would just go out and throw.
"With our coaching staff, [manager] Andrew Graham and [pitching coach] Mark Johnson, those guys have taught me a lot. I'm learning how to pitch and play the game the right way. It's been fun learning the game."
Johnson is pleased with the progress he's seen in Burrows' first full season.
"He's learning a lot, learning how to pitch," Johnson said. "He's very competitive and very coachable. We're happy to see him progress as he has this year and move forward.
"One thing is teaching him how to get through a whole season, how to take care of yourself, but also understand your delivery, understand your body, understand when it's telling you something. Learning mechanics is about making adjustments. Everyone gets better at that as they move up."
Burrows has had to battle through adversity this season. He developed a blister on the thumb of his pitching hand. It affected his two-seamer and finally got to a point where he was put on the disabled list for seven days on July 23.
"It wasn't too bad," Burrows said. "I fought through that. I worked on the things I was supposed to do and got back quick. Whenever you are on the DL, you still have to do the other things -- you still have to lift."
Burrows said a key aspect of development has been to add more weapons to his pitching arsenal.
"I have a lot more trust in my off-speed," Burrows said. "I'm throwing that more than usual, which is nice to see when it works. I'm commanding my fastball a lot better than it was. I'm learning a lot, and it's fun."
Although Burrows has been limited to usually pitching five or six innings, Johnson said he has still been able to get more of a read on batters.
"With each outing, with each inning you pitch, or each batter you face, you start to learn," Johnson said. "The more innings you accumulate and the more batters you face, you're going to start to read swings earlier, you're going to start pitching to what you see, not what you're thinking. I think that just comes with experience and reps, and over time, blossoms into a Major League pitcher."
Johnson sees a bright future for Burrows.
"Arm strength is always a bonus," Johnson said. "What we also see is a young kid who is willing to learn, willing to listen, ask questions and be a student of the game. There is a value to his character that is great. He wants to get better."
Ricketts visits: Tom Ricketts, the chairman and owner of the Chicago Cubs, will throw out the first pitch for the South Bend Cubs' playoff game Sept. 8. "It's great to have Tom in South Bend," commented Andrew T. Berlin, owner of the South Bend Cubs. "I see him a lot in Chicago and even during Spring Training in Arizona. But we haven't had him here for a game or to witness the amazing support of fans in this region yet. He's going to love South Bend."
South Bend Cubs president Joe Hart said Ricketts' visit will be very meaningful for the franchise. "I think it's great," Hart said. "We've had [Cubs president of baseball operations] Theo Epstein, we've had [senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting] Jason MacLeod, [executive vice president, general manager] Jed Hoyer and now to have [Ricketts] here ... he is the man in Chicago. It shows that he's supporting our organization. He's very appreciative of what we've been able to do for their players and the facilities that we've provided. It's a great opportunity for our fan base to see the owner of the Chicago Cubs in South Bend."
Skunk delay: The Dayton Dragons rallied from a 10-3 deficit in the seventh inning to post a thrilling 11-10 victory in a game that included a skunk delay. The skunk was first noticed near the tarp on the first-base side with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. As the skunk made its way to second base, Lugnuts players vacated the area. The Dayton grounds crew was able to remove the skunk from the field after it was cornered in the left-field fence area. Dayton scored nine of its 11 runs with two outs, and the victory snapped a skid in which the Dragons had lost nine of 10 games to Lansing.
Tough timber: The Clinton LumberKings pitching staff is continuing to dominate the opposition. Clinton is first in the Midwest League with 82 wins, a team ERA of 3.01, 18 shutouts, four complete games, 48 saves, a WHIP of 1.20 and has allowed the fewest homers in the league (49). Clinton had won 10 games in a row and 19 of its last 20 through Wednesday. The LumberKings have a stretch in which they have given up nine runs in 89 innings.
Curt Rallo is a contributor to MiLB.com.