Burawa Still Not Satisfied

Burawa has nine scoreless appearances so far

SCRANTON, PA - Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders relief pitcher Danny Burawa hasn't allowed a single run during the 2014 International League season. But don't even think about reminding him of that fact before a game, unless you want to be deemed a jinx.

"That means a run's coming tonight," said Burawa in a lighthearted, yet serious tone of voice. "Golden rule of baseball."

Apparently, though, that rule doesn't apply to Burawa. Later that night, in a 7-1 loss to Rochester on May 23, the New York native tossed another one and one-third scoreless innings to bring his season streak to 12 and two-thirds innings.

Burawa has consistently improved during his rise through the Yankees organization, posting a lower ERA with each move to a higher level and new team. However, not even he could have anticipated his dominant start at the Triple-A level.

With opponents batting only .095 against him, Burawa has quickly become one of the most dependable pitchers on a staff in constant flux with injuries and call-ups.

Now, with an oblique injury fully behind him, he's ready to blast through the summer stretch at the same elite level.

"I had a full spring to prepare myself against the best hitters," Burawa said, "and you kinda establish your game plan for getting guys out at a higher level. I've done my best to translate that to this level, and so far I feel pretty good about it."

The former 12th-round pick out of St. John's is finally hitting a groove in his fourth professional season. After a torn oblique and cracked rib kept him off the field completely in 2012, Burawa pitched his way to six victories in Trenton last season, resulting in his eventual promotion to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Even though a strained oblique put him on the disabled list in April, Burawa has already recorded two victories and a save this season with the RailRiders. He said he now feels healthier than ever and, in turn, more effective than ever.

One of the biggest reasons for Burawa's strong start is his much-improved slider, which he admits he was "never crazy about" until this offseason.

In fact, it frustrated him on many occasions. He normally topped out around 82 mph, while others could hit 90 with ease.

The epiphany came during Spring Training when he approached current teammate Shane Greene and asked about his throwing mechanics. Immediately after their chat, he began to notice a difference.

Now, Burawa said he has completely fallen in love with his slider.

"I'll throw it at any point," Burawa said. "It's definitely my strikeout pitch, and it's made my fastball even better."

His backstops have taken a liking to it as well, and they have nothing but high praise for the young reliever.

RailRiders catcher Austin Romine can easily rattle off a detailed scouting report on Burawa: An aggressive pitcher that throws a 95-mph fastball with significant movement, a good changeup and the slider, which Romine called "pretty wicked" of late.

Meanwhile, fellow catcher Francisco Arcia has a much simpler explanation for Burawa's emergence.

"He's young, and he's got a good arm too," Arcia said. "He can pitch… really well."

But Burawa said there is still one obstacle preventing him from reaching an even higher level: A lack of confidence.

Although the problem was much worse during prior seasons, Burawa said there are still times when he pitches too cautiously. In the past, it happened because he didn't trust his pitches. Now, it's just a matter of visualizing outs and attacking.

Burawa said this aspect of his game has improved more than any other since joining the RailRiders, and that's why he is excited for the rest of the 2014 season.

Although, Romine doesn't think Burawa will be in Moosic for very long. He believes a final promotion to New York could be on the horizon.

"I say that because I'm hoping he's not here too long," Romine clarified. "He's going to put the work in. He goes out there every day, stays aggressive, and good things happen when you get guys out."

So far, that hard work has paid off. With the RailRiders well in the hunt for the IL North division title, Burawa is piecing together his best professional season.

Although the scoreless streak is bound to end at some point, one thing that won't change is Burawa's constant desire to improve. And if he does, opposing hitters will have even more reason to fear him in the years to come.

"If you're ever content with where you're at, you stop growing as a pitcher," Burawa said. "I don't think I'll ever be content."

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