Mike Burrows signs with Pirates

Mike Burrows received advice from family, friends, coaches and scouts.

In the end, however, it was simple conversion with a former AAU teammate that convinced Burrows to start his professional baseball career immediately.

So Tuesday afternoon, nearly a month after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in Major League Baseball's amateur draft and less than two weeks after graduating from Waterford High School, the 18-year-old Burrows sat in the offices of Pittsburgh's PNC Park and signed with the Pirates.

He was Pittsburgh's 11th round pick (No. 324 overall), but also had the option of attending UConn in the fall.

"When it came right down to it, it was me just wanting to play," Burrows said in a phone conversation Tuesday night. "I want to do it right now. I don't want to wait."

The 6-foot-2, 184-pound right-handed pitcher spoke with a number of players who were drafted in 2017, including Matt Tabor of Milton, Mass., an AAU teammate with Northeast Baseball who was drafted in the third round by the Arizona Diamondbacks last year out of Milton Academy and signed immediately.

"Matt really pushed me in that direction," Burrows said. "He told me it was important, especially for pitchers and their development, to go to pro ball right away if you get the opportunity, and the situation was right."

Burrows said the Pirates made it easier, too, by offering him a $500,000 signing bonus, plus another $140,000 to continue his education. He passed his physical Tuesday, signed his contract with his family present, and will board a flight on Wednesday for Bradenton, Fla., where he will spend July and August pitching in the Gulf Coast League with the Pirates' Rookie League affiliate.

He will then return home briefly before returning to Florida for Pittsburgh's fall instructional league.

"It was a great deal all around," Burrows said. "There was a number I was looking for and if I got that I wanted to take it."

Burrows also said he will earn a college degree. 

"My dad made me promise go back and get a degree," he said. "Regardless of how I do it, whether I take online courses or go back to school, I made that promise to him ... and I'm going to keep it."

Burrows dominated opponents during his senior season at Waterford, finishing 6-0 with a 0.38 earned run average. He walked only eight and recorded 98 strikeouts in only 44 innings while allowing only 17 hits and finishing his career by pitching 37 consecutive scoreless innings.

Burrows also pitched back-to-back no-hitters. He won eight games during his junior season and pitched a complete game two-hitter with 15 strikeouts when the Lancers defeated Lewis Mills 4-0 in the 2017 Class M state final, the program's 10th state championship.

He could eventually end up being a teammate with former UConn catcher Zac Susi, the son of Waterford graduate and Western Connecticut State coach John Susi. Susi who was also drafted by the Pirates (No. 354 overall in the 12th round) and recently signed with Pittsburgh. He has started his pro career with the West Virginia Black Bears in the New York-Penn League.

c.banning@theday.com

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