Beau Burrows’ first varsity start was something casual, like six shutout innings against a team Terry Massey can’t remember.
What the Weatherford High School coach does remember is Burrows’ next start, a week later against Corsicana.
The freshman was pitching with a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when a ground ball that should’ve been an inning-ending double play resulted in one out. The next batter homered. Massey turned to his assistant.
“We’re getting ready to find out what he’s got,” Massey said.
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Burrows struck out the next six hitters, and then fanned a few hundred more over four seasons at Weatherford, as he developed one of the best fastballs in the country.
Now comes the payoff: The Texas A&M signee is expected to be selected within the first two rounds of the MLB Draft, which starts at 6 p.m. Monday. The first 75 picks — the first and second round plus two compensation rounds — will be announced live on MLB Network.
Baseball America’s latest mock draft has him going 32nd overall, where the slotted signing bonus is $1,855,000.
“I’ve been hearing from quite a few guys,” Burrows said. “Ever since last summer they’ve been coming over and talking at the house and getting to know me and see how I’d fit into their club.”
Burrows’ value stems from the power behind his consistently mid-90s fastball. When he’s really on, he’ll sit at 97. In his final outing of the season for Weatherford, he hit 99.
Burrows’ numbers this spring were expectedly gaudy: 132 strikeouts and a 0.78 ERA in 72 innings.
But while Burrows’ draft status skyrocketed two summers ago when hit 96 on the radar gun, his development has been nearly a decade in the making under Flint Wallace, a former Weatherford High coach and Weatherford College assistant.
Wallace now works at the Texas Baseball Ranch in Montgomery, near Houston. In March, “The Ranch” was featured in Sports Illustrated as a hub of baseball’s velocity movement. Big leaguers Trevor Bauer and Barry Zito have trained at the complex, which was founded by Ron Wolforth, an ex-small school pitcher and former softball coach in Nebraska.
Burrows spent two days at The Ranch over the winter. But it was just a fine-tuning session of what he’s worked on weekly since his parents brought him to Wallace as a 9-year-old.
“We were just trying to get his movement pattern as athletic as we could,” Wallace recalled from his early days with Burrows. “I think my philosophy in throwing is that you need to develop the velocity first. Once you’re older, it’s harder to create. Then you refine the delivery.”
Unlike most premier high school prospects, Burrows doesn’t have a wiry, long-armed build. A line from Baseball America: “Scouts harbor concerns about his size — most evaluators believe he’s 6-foot, not 6-foot-2 as he’s often been listed, although scouts like his broad shoulders.” Burrows said he’s 6-1.
“I’ve been taught how to use my legs,” he said “I try to lift my legs a lot and use them to my advantage. I try to bend my back leg and try to get as much push off my back leg and my butt that I can.”
Wallace calls it a “pelvic load,” where the goal for Burrows is to move his hips as far off the rubber in the early stages of his windup. This builds tension, Wallace said, which increases his momentum as he turns toward the plate.
“It’s almost like an outfielder landing out of a crow hop,” Wallace said. “That’s the position we’re trying to get.”
As Burrows enters his leg lift, he raises his hands high, above the bill of his hat, before extending toward home. His shoulders tilt back, his weight shifts to his right leg and his arm stays along for the ride, with his throwing motion quick, compact and close to his body.
Burrows’ windup has been by designed as such for two reasons: Generation of power and self-preservation. More reliance on the legs and the core means less reliance on the arm.
Wallace’s “guided discovery” teaching approach has also allowed Burrows to evolve when needed. The same scouting report that referenced concern about his size, raved about his “excellent ability to self-diagnose and continually improve his delivery.”
Up close, Massey has marveled over Burrows’ concentration on getting better.
“Obviously, it’s God-given talent,” Massey said. “But he also has worked at it. This kid has worked at it religiously all the time.”
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760
Area draft prospects
The MLB Draft starts at 6 p.m. Monday. The first 75 picks will be announced live on MLB Network. Here’s a look at area high school and college players who have a good chance of getting picked:
Trent Clark, OF, Richland HS. Clark, a Texas Tech signee, is projected by Baseball America to go 12th overall to the Marlins. Wherever he lands, he’ll have a multi-million-dollar signing bonus coming his way.
Beau Burrows, P, Weatherford HS. Burrows should be a fringe first-round pick, with Baseball America projecting him to go 32nd overall in the first compensation round. His fastball has been clocked at 99 mph.
Alex Young, P, TCU. Young, a successful left-hander for the Frogs this year, should get picked somewhere near Burrows.
Riley Ferrell, P, TCU. The Horned Frogs’ closer is ranked 59th overall by Baseball America, which makes him a strong candidate to be selected Monday.
Tony Santillian, P, Arlington Seguin. Santillian, another Texas Tech signee, is a hard-throwing right-hander who is ranked 99th overall by Baseball America. Santillian has as much raw talent as any prospect in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Doak Dozier, OF, Fort Worth Arlington Heights. Dozier, a Virginia signee, combines enough size to provide a power threat with the speed to play a high-demand position such as center field. He could go in the top five rounds.
Luke Wakamatsu, SS, Keller. The Rice signee has been the leader for Keller, which reached the Class 6A Region I championship. He’s smooth in the field and grew up around the majors — his dad, Don Wakamatsu, used to manage the Mariners.