When Zack Burdi was drafted, he was expected to be a fast riser in the White Sox system, but injuries have derailed that.
Burdi made it to Triple-A in 2016, just a couple months after he was drafted, and held his own in nine appearances for the Charlotte Knights. He returned to Charlotte in 2017, but Tommy John surgery ended his season and cost him almost all of 2018.
Last year, he returned, this time reaching Double-A Birmingham before a knee injury ended his season in June. Burdi last pitched in a competitive game on June 20.
On Tuesday, he pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants in a spring training game. Burdi’s return to the mound included a first-pitch flyout and two groundouts to second. He talked to reporters on Wednesday about his outing.
“To go out there and have a good Day 1 was huge,” Burdi said. “The last thing you want is to go out there after eight months and not do well and kind of double check yourself and all the work you’ve been putting in. To go out there and to have success and to see all that work come to light was truly good.”
Reports from Arizona had Burdi in the mid 90s, which is a bit off his previous consistent fastball velocity in the high 90s and reaching 100 mph. His velocity was down last year when he returned, but seeing it in the mid 90s in his first outing back this time around is reasonable.
Burdi also showed off his wicker slider, getting a couple swinging strikes on Kean Wong.
The White Sox will likely stay conservative with the 24-year-old right-handed reliever to start the year. If he is healthy and ready to go, he could be a midseason addition to the bullpen.
“My first outing in eight months there was a lot of nerves coming back for sure and I was anxious in the bullpen,” Burdi told reporters in Arizona. “I was walking around a lot, but I was excited. I’ve been working really hard the last couple months on mechanics and trying to get that right for the season so to go out there and see that be put to work was really nice for sure.”
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