School: Missouri State University; Class: Junior
Position: 3B; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-2; Weight: 210
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: The preeminent power hitter in this year’s draft class, Burger, who went undrafted coming out of Christian Brothers College High School, burst onto the scene as a true freshman for the Bears in 2015. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound third baseman slugged a robust .342/.390/.518 with a team-leading 22 doubles, three triples, and four long balls. He also swiped four bags just for added measure.
The budding first round pick followed that up with an even more prolific season in 2016: in 56 games for Head Coach Keith Guttin, Burger walloped the opposition to the tune of .349/.420/.689 with 13 doubles, a pair of triples, 21 homeruns, and, of course, another three stolen bases. Burger garnered a litany of awards that year as well, including: ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Award, Third Team All-American (Baseball America, NCBWA, D1Baseball, and Louisville Slugger).
The hot-hitting third baseman cooled considerably during the summer, however, hitting .271/.358/.373 with just five extra-base hits in 19 games for Team USA.
This season Burger, once again, raised the bar for offensive prowess for this year’s draft class. Through his first 50 games, Burger’s slugging a sizzling .345/.459/.706 with 11 doubles and 20 homeruns – currently the fourth best mark among all DI players.
For his career, he’s slugging .345/.423/.635 with 46 doubles, five triples, and 45 homeruns. He’s also sporting an impressive 93-to-73 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Projection: Again, the prolific collegiate power hitter in this year’s draft class. Burger has not one, but two seasons in which he’s reached the 20-homer mark – the only hitter to accomplish that feat since 2011. In fact, here’s some more contextual evidence to support Burger’s dominance throughout his amateur career:
• Since 2011, there’s only 61 instances in which a slugger – at any level – batted at least .340/.400/.675 in a season (minimum 240 plate appearances).
• Continuing with the aforementioned factoid, only four hitters have accomplished that twice in their respective careers: Adam Giacalone, Dylan Johnson, Kyle Lewis, D.J. Peterson.
• Of those aforementioned four, only Kyle Lewis and D.J. Peterson played at the Division I level. Burger, of course, would be the third.
• Keeping with the original production levels (.340/.400/.675), only six of those hitters have slugged 20 homeruns in their respective seasons: Casey Allison, Miguel Beltran, Jake Burger (twice, potentially), Nick Feight, Jake Lowery, Heath Quinn.
• Again, extending the constraints a little more, no player has accomplished that with a walk rate north of 15.0%. If the season ended at the time of this writing, Burger would eclipse that mark.
There’s really nothing to not like about Burger: above-average to plus power, a premium defensive position who’s been recognized as a solid or better defender, and impressive plate discipline. Burger has the potential to be an All-Star.
Ceiling: 4.0- to 4.5-win player
Floor: 1.5- to 2.0-win player
Grade: First Round