Name: Zack Burdi
Born: Downers Grove, Illinois
Age: 21 (3/19/1995)
Height/Weight: 6'3"/205 lbs
School: University of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky)
For many, sibling rivalry can manifest itself as jealous competition that damages relationships. For others, sibling rivalry manifests itself as good-natured one-ups-manship that strengthens relationships. For Zack and Nick Burdi, their relationship is very much the latter. Over the years, the two brothers have stoked a competitive edge in each other and helped forge careers that have them on the cusp of a major league career. As their father put it, "It's incredible, it's unique, it's special and it's a bond these boys will have forever. It's kind of a fraternity at this point between the two of them."
While they enjoy playing with each other, as they did at Downers Grove High School and for a short time at the University of Louisville, the two brothers enjoy competing against each other even more. Zack does not get bitter at his brother's success at the expense of his own, or vice-versa. "We feed off of one another, it drives me to try and be as good as him and I know he works even harder because he always wants to be just a small bit better than me. It's not that we don't want the other to succeed or we get frustrated, I just know that if I continue to work hard and he continues to work hard we will both be extremely successful," he said.
Both Zack and Nick were introduced to baseball by their older brother, Drew, who is a quarterback at Western Michigan University. Nick was influenced by his older brother's dedication and work ethic, and he, in turn, passed that on to his younger brother. The hard work and dedication that he put in paid off, as he was a stand-out pitcher at Downers Grove High School. Zack was named to various honorary teams, was rated one of the best players in Illinois, and was named in national lists on the best prep players and the best draft-eligible players. With his commitment to the University of Louisville well known, the right-handed pitcher was not drafted, and he instead went on to pitch for the Cardinals.
His first season with Louisville was something of a mixed bag. He made thirteen relief appearances in total for the year, pitching 10.1 innings overall. He flashed moments of brilliance but ended the season finishing with a slightly elevated 4.35 ERA. That summer, he spent time at the Cape Cod Baseball League and with Louisville pitching coach Roger Williams. The results paid off, as Zack took a major step forward in his sophomore year. Armed with a more effective slider and changeup, and a few more miles per hour on his fastball, not only was he able to post better numbers across the board, but he was able to solidify himself as the Louisville Cardinal closer, succeeding his recently departed brother, who had been drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft.
That summer, Burdi pitched for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, where he pitched 9.2 innings, and once again for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he pitched 10.1 innings. When he returned to Louisville for the 2016 season, he was named team captain. He appeared in 24 games for the Cardinals, posting a 2.08 ERA in 26 innings. Posting career-best peripherals, the right-handed flame thrower notched ten saves and helped lead his team to a 47-10 record and an ACC championship berth.
|2014||NCAA Div I (ACC)||19||13 (0 GS)||10.1||4.35||6||7|
|2014||CCBL||19||12 (0 GS)||18.0||3.50||18||8|
|2015||NCAA Div I (ACC)||20||20 (0 GS)||29.1||0.92||30||8|
|2015||CCBL||20||4 (0 GS)||10.1||1.74||15||6|
|2016||NCAA Div I (ACC)||21||24 (0 GS)||26.0||2.08||44||7|
What The Scouts Think
A bona fide flame thrower, Zack leans heavily on his dynamic fastball to record outs. The pitch sits in the high 90 and regularly breaks into triple digits, recorded as fast as 101 MPH. The pitch has some late life, but it straightens out at times, when he does not get on top of the ball.
Zack is far a one-trick pony, and not only does he possess secondary pitches, but both his slider and change-up grade well. The slider has tight break and clocks in the high 80s, while the changeup has good fade and is thrown with the same arm action as his fastball. When either pitch is working, they can be considered plus pitches.
Burdi pitches exclusively from the stretch, on the extreme right-hand side of the rubber. When he is set, he stands in an unorthodox pigeon-toed manner, with his front (left) foot pointing backwards, almost at the shortstop. He throws from a low 3/4 arm slot, generating velocity with his arm action and long stride.
Though a closer, the possibility exists for Burdi to start. Optimists see that the right-hander has a solid three-pitch mix and clean mechanics. Pessimists will be quick to point out that he has not started a game since he pitched for Downers Grove South High School, and that his fringe-average control would be even more of a liability as a starter than it presents as a relief pitcher.