The Day's All-Area Baseball Player of the Year: Waterford's Mike Burrows
His story, like all of ours, is a motion picture, not a Polaroid. Moving, changing, evolving.
And so what began in March as a potential season of hope and wonder for Mike Burrows found an ending — and a beginning, too — a cap of a wonderful high school career that led seamlessly into adulthood.
How has life changed for The Day’s 2018 All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, earning the honor for the second straight season? Put it this way: In March, he may have asked to borrow the occasional 20 bucks from his dad, Tom, and mom, Kristin. Now it’s probably the other way around.
Burrows, the Waterford whiz kid pitcher, recently signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that drafted him in the 11th round only a week or two before high school graduation. Burrows received a $500,000 signing bonus with $140,000 more earmarked for his continuing (college) education.
To think the kid knocking about with his friends at Waterford’s post-graduation all-night party — he’s pretty good at pop-a-shot, too — has Waterford in the rear view mirror already. He passed his physical last Tuesday, signed his contract with his family present and flew to 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.
Burrows, 6-foot-2, 184 pounds with a fastball that hit as high as 95 during the season, discovered the magic of parlaying God-given ability with the want-to to get better. He worked doggedly in the offseason with his uncle, Tim, at Power In Training (PIT), a baseball haven in Niantic. Mike Burrows spent many cold winter days and nights toiling anonymously.
“I think I learned a lot about my body,” Burrows said earlier this season. “How to recover between starts. What do to between starts. That was the biggest difference. There’s a lot of work that’s involved in this besides just going out there and pitching.”
Burrows finished 6-0 with a 0.38 earned run average this season. He walked eight and struck out 98 in 44 innings, allowing but 17 hits. He finished his career by pitching 37 consecutive scoreless innings.
Burrows also pitched back-to-back no-hitters.
He cemented a spot in program lore and legend long before the season began, too. 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.
“The only word I think about when talking about him is ‘stud,’” Waterford coach Art Peluso said during the season, after one of Burrows’ victories. “As he evolved, he just got more and more aggressive. He didn’t let anything else affect him. Just really fun to watch.”
All year, Burrows was thought to be among UConn’s most prized recruits, until the Pirates came calling.
"My dad made me promise go back and get a degree," Burrows 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.”
Not a bad spring for him. Prom … high school graduation … six-figure professional contract. Michael Burrows leaves quite the legacy.
The Day's 2018 All-Area Baseball Team
Year - Mike Burrows (Waterford)
Pitcher - Griffin Pontbriant (Montville), Ken Turner (Ledyard)
Catcher - Matt Malcom (East Lyme)
Infield - Jace Funaro (Old Lyme), Chris Malcom (East Lyme), Elijah Martinez (New London), Walker Sutman (Waterford)
Outfield - Doug DelaCruz (Montville), Kevin Ferrer (Stonington), James Laconico (Ledyard)
Designated hitter - Giovanni Valentine (Fitch)
Utility - Connor Svab (St. Bernard)