Zack Burdi’s shutdown in the Arizona Fall League is no cause for concern, at least not to Rick Hahn.
Burdi, who the White Sox took in the first round of the 2016 draft, has been recovering from Tommy John for more than a year. He didn’t pitch in any minor league games during the 2018 season, and he was just taken out of action in the AFL after a handful of appearances.
While that might have raised a few eyebrows, the White Sox general manager said there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Burdi, who many fans consider the top internal candidate to be the White Sox closer of the future.
“He is doing well, and it is too early to be concerned about Zack Burdi,” Hahn said last week at the GM Meetings in Southern California. “It's important to get back throwing regularly. He had a very long rehab process, as you can imagine, which ended with going out on a regular basis in the Arizona Fall League. He cleared every hurdle we had for him at the end.
“He expressed to us a level of fatigue as far as his overall body being worn out from the time of his throwing program to instructs, to the Fall League, we felt it made sense to just shut him down instead of just running him out there for the last two weeks of Fall League.
“We are pleased with where he's at right now. We had always said that the target for him would be to be essentially back without restriction in 2019. That continues to be the case.”
That’s got to be pleasant news for White Sox fans who might have worried that the shutdown was an indicator of some sort of setback in Burdi’s recovery.
What should be even more pleasant news is that Burdi might make his way to the South Side in 2019. He reached Triple-A Charlotte prior to requiring Tommy John surgery in 2017, logging 33.1 innings there with a 4.05 ERA.
The White Sox bullpen is loaded with youth after a flurry of late-season call-ups in 2018, but perhaps there’s room for one more, eventually, the organization's No. 17 prospect.
“Keep in mind that he's still very young,” Hahn said. “He still has relatively few minor league innings under his belt. I can certainly see him forcing his way into our picture in 2019. When, whether it's early, middle or late, I don't know. Let's see where he's at once he's back throwing in games regularly for us. We still very much believe in his future and are pleased with where he's at in terms of his rehab.”