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Saturday Single: Kyle Reis on Alec Burelson’s Defense

Birds on the Black’s Kyle Reis joins the podcast to talk about Alec Burleson’s defense and jalapeno tater tots!

Saturday Singles — our short form podcast — is back! One guest. One topic. This time it’s Kyle Reis from Birds on the Black who joins me to talk about Alec Burleson’s defense.

Why that topic? Well, since the trade of Harrison Bader, there’s been a lot of chatter about who will take over in right field now and going forward. Lars Nootbaar seems to have the spot locked down for this season, but Burleson has a starter’s profile and superb offensive stats at AAA.

He also lives up to his “Burley” nickname. He’s a stout player; he has the kind of body that looks like he belongs at 1b or DH rather than roaming the outfield.

That’s led to a lot of people on the site and around the internet questioning his defensive ability.

It doesn’t help that Burleson was drafted in 2020 and just has two seasons in the minors. He has moved incredibly fast and scouting reports from the popular outlets haven’t caught up with the abilities he is displaying in real-time game action.

For instance, over at Fangraphs they have him rated as a 45 hit, 30 game power, and 30 fielding tool.

Yeah... a guy in just his second full minor league season who has very consistently destroyed AAA pitching is a below average hitter with knock-the-bat-out-of-your-hands in-game power.

(For those who don’t know the 80/20 scouting scale, a 30 grade is terrible but not quite the worst ever.)

As a point of reference, Tommy Edman had a 30 in-game power rating coming into the league. He had 23 career homeruns spread over 5 minor league seasons.

Alec Burleson has 20 home runs this season to go along with a .326/.368/.532 batting line and a 136 wRC+ that he’s carried consistently through the season. (I.e. he’s not just hot at the time of this posting.)

Let’s just say that Burleson has quite a bit more power than Tommy Edman did and leave it at that!

The same thing applies to his glove. As a first baseman/pitcher in college, scouts were right to be hesitant to grant him a high fielding grade early in his pro career. But players develop. And the Cardinals can develop fielders.

Anyway, I’m not trying to dunk on Fangraphs rating system here. I’m really just trying to point out that the draft scouting reports from Burleson are still weighing heavily in a lot of readily-available evaluations because of his rapid rise and relatively recent emergence as a “prospect-to-watch” nationally.

That’s why we turn to our local experts who watch these players every day to give us a more complete picture of a player’s skills, flaws, and expectations. That’s who Kyle Reis is. And that’s exactly what he does here for us.

Kyle and I focus primarily on Burleson’s defense but, as usual, drift off topic to his offense, Juan Yepez, Allen Craig, and others. There’s even a bit about jalapeno tater tots that really drives home the kind of person Kyle is. We love him.

As always, you can listen and watch right here on Viva El Birdos.

Here’s the podcast link:

Here’s the YouTube video:

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