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Voices From The Basement: More on Burgos

Note: I got back in very late last night (or early this morning if you prefer), so in place of today's entry is a mini-VFTB. Kevin's Royals Blog will be back tomorrow with another article.

Kevin: When the Royals added Ambiorix Burgos to their 40-man roster, I was pretty excited because the kid dominated his league last year, and has continued to strike people out at a very high rate in winter ball. If anyone in this organization has the ability to be Johan Santana, it's him.

However, the Royals apparently don't see him the way I do. I've read stories on both the Kansas City Star's website and the team's official website that indicate they're dead-set on making Burgos a relief pitcher. They say that he's only starting games to get regular work, and that in time, he will be moved to the bullpen.

Does that bother you at all? It bothers me quite a bit, even if at the present, he has no third pitch and his slider is inconsistent. He's only 20 years old, and showed flashes of being a guy who can dominate a game with 15 strikeouts like Santana did a year ago. When a team has a guy with that kind of ability, they need to maximize his innings, not restrict him to one- and two-inning appearances. What do you think?

Daniel: It bothers me, but in all fairness, only because Zack Greinke did what he did in 2004. I probably wouldn't have given it a lot of thought if Burgos was the first 20-year-old pitcher since ... who, Bret Saberhagen? And I believe he was 21 ...

But the reality is, of course, that Greinke did have a great rookie season last year at 20 years old, and he did it as a starter. I'm not sure how the organization can see a 20-year-old perform like Greinke did as a starter, then turn around and pigeon-hole Burgos as a reliever. It's one thing to project Burgos as a starter or reliever in their heads -- it's another to make that a reality without testing it on the field.

Personally, I don't think any 20-year-old should start out as a reliever (at least, not a 20 year old with the type of arm Burgos has). Perhaps I'm old school, but aren't starters more valuable than relievers? Why not teach him another pitch or two to see if a starter can be made of him?

Indeed, this is baffling, and it's very short-sighted. I really, really hope this isn't a prelude to billing Burgos as their "closer of the future", or anything insipid like that. What next, drafting closers and set-up men out of high school?
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