Waterford's Burrows drafted by Pirates in 11th round

Waterford — Mike Burrows, who recently completed a dominating senior season as the ace of Waterford High School's pitching staff, was selected in the 11th round of Major League Baseball's annual amateur draft (No. 324 overall) on Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

And soon it will be decision time for the 6-foot-2, 184 pound righthander.

Does he honor his commitment to play collegiately at UConn for the next three seasons, or does he accept an offer from the Pirates and begin his professional career this summer?

Either way, Burrows will be at peace with his ultimate choice.

"As long as I follow my heart," he said, "I think the decision will take care of itself."

Burrows, 18, will sit down with his parents, Tom and Kristen, and sort out both options during still-to-be scheduled meetings with scout Eddie Charles, Pittsburgh's Northeast Supervisor, and UConn head coach Jim Penders. He accepted congratulations from both on Wednesday.

"We're just going to see how these two meetings go," Burrows said. "I know one is going to be mad and I realize I can't please both. I also think they're going to be happy for me either way because they're both good people."

For now, Burrows will focus on his final weeks at Waterford and graduation on June 21 after completing a dominating senior season which produced staggering numbers. He finished 6-0 with a 0.38 earned run average, recorded 98 strikeouts (315 for his career) while walking only eight in 44 innings, allowed only 17 hits, finished with 37 consecutive scoreless innings, and pitched back-to-back no-hitters (he came one out away from a third).

In his final game, Burrows pitched seven shutout innings against Notre Dame of West Haven in the opening round of the state tournament, but left in a scoreless tie after seven innings (Waterford eventually won 1-0 in 10 innings).

Despite the gaudy statistics, that's the game Waterford coach Art Peluso will remember most.

"Their kid was throwing well and Mike was throwing well," Peluso said. "But to sum him up, during that game, (Notre Dame) loads the bases with two outs and then he goes 3-0 on the next batter. Mike throws right at the knees for strike one, but the Notre Dame kid tried to bait the ump to get ball four and get the run in.

"That was a high-pressure moment, but Mike stands on the mound, looks in, and just smiles at the kid. The next two pitches he pounds the strike zone and he's sitting in the dugout. That's the type of competitor he is."

Give Peluso credit, too. Realizing early on that Burrows had a baseball future beyond high school, he never overworked his ace, allowing him to pitch only once a week.

"That's the best way to do it," Peluso said. "He pitched 44 innings and he could have been a 60 innings guy, but why burn him out when you know he's going to have opportunities down the road. He put in a lot of time to make himself better, which is a direct result of his parents, and now the doors are opening for him.

"Whatever he decides will be the right decision for him. I'm happy for him and also proud that I had the opportunity to be around him for four years. He's a great kid."

Burrows wasn't the only player with Waterford ties to be selected Wednesday. UConn catcher Zac Susi, the son of Waterford graduate and Western Connecticut State coach John Susi, was also drafted by the Pirates (No. 354 overall in the 12th round). He played at Southington High School. In addition, UConn relief pitcher P.J. Poulin was selected in the 11th round by the Colorado Rockies (No. 336 overall) and UConn commit Patrick Winkel, a catcher from Amity, was drafted in the 31st round (No. 931 overall) by the Yankees.

c.banning@theday.com

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