MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – Former Mercer outfielder Billy Burns received the highest organizational honor bestowed upon any prospect as he was named the 2013 Washington Nationals Minor League Player of the Year over the weekend.
The selection comes in just Burns' second full season in the Nationals minor league system after the club selected him in the 32nd round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Burns was joined by RHP Taylor Jordan, who was named the organizations Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
"This year, Billy certainly put himself in a good position," Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said. "He has an elite skill set with the speed element. Where it goes, we shall see."
Burns had a spectacular season within the Nationals farm system, and at just 24 years of age still has plenty of time to continue to develop. Burns started the season in High-A Potomac, hitting .312, with a .422 on-base percentage, eight doubles, nine triples and 54 stolen bases in 91 games played.
The Marietta, Ga. native was recognized for his strong play by being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg to help the Senators with their late season playoff push. Burns didn't miss a beat moving up a level, hitting .325, with a .434 on-base percentage, four doubles and 20 stolen bases in 30 games played.
Harrisburg Senators manager Matt LeCroy can't say enough about Burns and what he brings to his club. "The only thing I can compare it to is watching Deion Sanders play baseball," LeCroy said. "That's how fast Billy is, like a Kenny Lofton, and Billy is faster than Kenny Lofton was."
Burns success in the professional ranks comes as no surprise to those who saw him roam center field in a Mercer uniform from 2009-2011. Burns finished his three-year career in Macon with a .353 batting average, 159 runs scored, 33 doubles and 70 stolen bases. Burns, who finished his career with an A-Sun All-Conference second team and 2011 Capital One Academic All-America third team distinctions, still holds the program records for highest career on-base percentage (.449) and most triples in a career (8).
The 2014 edition of the Mercer baseball program begins fall practice as a team on September 27th with its annual Orange and Black World Series set to begin on October 21st.