Andy Burns, Toronto Blue Jays 11th round pick of the 2011 draft, spent most of 2015 with the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bison, putting up some impressive numbers
Andy Burns got his first taste of Triple-A baseball in his 5th professional season, playing 126 of his 132 games with the Buffalo Bisons. The versatile infielder opened the season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, where he played 6 games before heading to Buffalo on April 17th. With the Fisher Cats, Burns hit only .238 with a home run and 3 RBI.
Andy Burns produced at an above average rate with 112 wRC+ and .338 wOBA with the Bisons, which is good enough for 21st on the Blue Jays MLB.com Pipeline Top Prospect rankings.
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Surprisingly, Burns saw his power numbers dry up in 2015, with an uninspiring .079 ISO during his time in Buffalo, after consistently showing 10-15 HR power in his previous seasons. Andy hit only 5HR in 2015, after hitting 15 home runs in 2014. He also saw his extra numbers dip, hitting only 26 doubles versus 32 last year with New Hampshire. He hit more ground ball with 1.31 GO/AO, which is his highest mark since hitting 1.52 GO/AO in 2011.
The high GO/AO rate also accounts for hitting into 17 double plays, which will happen when you consistently pound the ball into the ground. His power is to the pull side with most of his hits and outs to the left side of the infield and LF (see heat map and spray chart below).
Mandatory Credit: MLBfarm.com
Andy’s power numbers notwithstanding 2015 was a year of consistency for Burns, who never batting average dip below .271 with Buffalo. He hit .311 in April, .288 in May, .273 in June, .280 in July, .317 in August, and .308 in 7 September games. He continues to dominate against LHP (.328), but hit RHP (.276) better in 2015 and why Andy hit close to .300 for the first time in his career.
Mandatory Credit: MLBfarm.com
Another reason for Andy’s .293 batting was his ability to cut down on strike outs. After striking out 17.9% in 2014 with New Hampshire, Burns only struck out 13.1% with the Bisons, while maintaining a solid 7.2BB% rate at the higher level.
Another facet of Burns game to disappear in 2015, was the running game. With 74 career stolen bases, Burns averaged 17SB and only 6CS per season since 2011. Andy did not have the same success in 2015, stealing only 6 and being caught 9 times. Hitting ahead of International League MVP Matt Hague, Burns didn’t need to run much, so that may have played a role in the low stolen base totals.
Constantly labeled as super-utility prospect, Burns continues show his versatility by playing multiple positions for Buffalo. Andy has played over 200 games at 3rd and added that total by playing 56 games at 3rd with a 2.79 RangeFactor and .945 Fld% for Buffalo. Burns 46 games at 2nd for the first time since 1 game in 2013 and 12 games in 2012; however, his time at short has steadily decreased to 8 games since playing 55 games at SS in 2012. Andy also saw 13 games at 1st and 6 games in LF.
Overall, Burns had a successful season hitting .291/.350/.373 with a .723 OPS, 26 doubles, 5 home runs (career low), 46 RBI, 7.2 BB%, 13.1K%, and .335 BABIP. Despite being eligible at December’s Rule V Draft, Burns wasn’t selected and will return to Buffalo in 2016 and could challenge a bench spot with Toronto.
With Dalton Pompey no longer eligible for rookie status, Andy Burns could be the closest positional prospect to contributing for the Blue Jays for 2016.