As good as he was on the mound, Kyler Burke’s future is as a hitter. (Staff File Photo/Times Free Press)
Kyler Burke, a big-time two-way high school baseball star, could potentially have been drafted as either a southpaw starter or as an outfielder. His senior season, however, laid any doubts to rest about his future in baseball.
Burke slugged 20 homers this year for his Ooltewah, Ten., high school, becoming the first player to reach that plateau in state high school baseball play since 1998, when current Mariner outfielder Jeremy Reed turned the trick. That feat cinched it: Burke was to become an outfielder as a professional.
The stellar season (he hit .459 with 59 RBI and 55 runs) also earned him recognition by being named to the 2006 EA Sports All-America High School Baseball Team as an outfielder.
Taken as a sandwich pick, 35th overall by San Diego, Burke passed up a chance to go to Vanderbilt by signing with the Padres.
After signing in mid-June, Burke was assigned to the Padres’ Rookie level team in the Arizona League. He got off to a fast start, hitting safely in seven of his first eight pro games, but has struggled somewhat since then.
The 18-year-old has scored 15 runs in 19 games and 76 at-bats, but has managed just one dinger with only five RBI. Burke has drawn 10 walks, but fanned 25 times, so he clearly has plenty of work ahead of him. However, given his pedigree, Burke is someone that keeper league owners will want to track.