Tanner Burns looks to prove doubters wrong

Tanner Burns is one of the top high school right-handed pitchers in the country. An Alabama native, Burns has a bright future ahead, whether that’s at the collegiate level or in professional baseball.

Committed to Auburn University, Burns was originally committed to the University of Alabama. But after Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard resigned last year on May 30, Burns reopened the recruiting process.

It didn’t take long for Burns to find a new school, as he committed to Auburn on June 17, 2016. Burns will be a freshman at Auburn this fall.

“I feel like coach Butch Thompson is one of the top pitching coaches, and he’s a great guy,” Burns said. “When I first committed to Alabama, he was at Mississippi State. When I told him I was going to Alabama he sent me a letter and said if I needed anything to let him known. Most of the schools I talked to were ugly to me, but he stood out.

“When he got the head coaching job at Auburn and with his resume of putting guys in the big leagues, it all just worked out. It really is a blessing.”

Burns may never step foot on Auburn’s campus this fall, however. MLB.com ranks Burns as the 36th-best prospect in June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.

A 6-foot, 210-pound right-hander, Burns is a polished prep pitcher, after growing up with a father who played professionally and currently serves as the head coach at Calhoun Community College in Alabama.

Burns has a three-pitch repertoire, featuring a fastball, changeup and curveball. His fastball sits at 95 mph and peaks at 97 mph with solid command. Burns’ best off-speed pitch is his hard breaking curveball.

“My fastball (is my biggest strength),” Burns said. “I feel like I have good command of it. It’s hard too. It’s my best pitch.”

Burns doesn’t have a long track record of throwing his changeup, but it’s an improving offering that he’s spent significant time refining.

“I didn’t have a changeup going into last summer, and I really had to work on my changeup,” Burns said. “I don’t want to be a reliever I want to be a starter. I needed three pitches. I’ve been working on my changeup – throwing it for a strike and where I want to.”

Some people peg Burns as a reliever in professional baseball due to his size and lack of experience throwing his changeup. Burns uses the criticism as motivation.

“I can’t wait to prove those people wrong,” Burns said. “That really motivates me to be a better person and a better pitcher.”

As of April 27, Burns has a 9-0 record with a microscopic 0.70 ERA with 100 strikeouts, 17 walks surrendered and just 20 hits allowed in 50 innings this spring. He’s also a tremendous hitter, batting .479 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs.

Burns is eager for the future, but his No. 1 priority is his high school baseball team, Decatur High School.

“I don’t really pay attention to the draft,” Burns said. “We have the third round of the playoffs (May 5) and we’re playing Cullman (High School) with Jacob Heatherly. It’s going to be a big zoo. I know it’s there and those people are behind home plate. I’m just trying to pitch and let my ability do the rest.”

Find more MLB Draft coverage here.

READ: 2017 MLB Draft: Profiles on top prospects

READ: The3rdManIn.com’s MLB Draft prospect history

Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski IIIhttp://BaseballProspectJournal.com
Dan Zielinski III is the creator of the Baseball Prospect Journal and has covered the MLB draft since 2015. His draft work originally appeared on The3rdManIn.com, a sports website he started in December 2011. He also covered the Milwaukee Brewers as a member of the credentialed media for four years. Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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