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Friday, May 7, 2021

Jeromy Burnitz drew Maris comparisons, saw 14 bigs seasons

Jeromy Burnitz 1990 Pittsfield Mets card

Oklahoma State's Jeromy Burnitz not only looked ahead to his senior season in summer 1989, but also to the pros, according to The Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman.

The outfielder and member of Team USA hoped to try his hand at a new position, catching, he told The Daily Oklahoman.

"It's everybody's dream to play in the major leagues, and I think catching is a position that will get me the farthest," Burnitz told The Daily Oklahoman that July. "I'm not worried what round I get drafted. That all takes care of itself, but yeah, I'd really like to catch next year."

Whether he tried catching or not that next season, he never tried it in the pros. But he did get taken high in the draft - and he went on to a long career in the majors.

By the time his career had concluded, he'd seen time in 14 major league campaigns, for seven different major league clubs, including a long stint with the Brewers.

Burnitz' career began in 1990, taken by the Mets in the first round, 17th overall, out of Oklahoma State.

Burnitz started with the Mets at short-season Pittsfield and at high-A St. Lucie. He hit .278 in 62 games overall. 

The New York Daily News checked in on him that July in Pittsfield. His manager Jim Eschen compared the young Burnitz to Roger Maris.

"It is eerie because he reminds you of Maris in so many ways," Eschen told The Daily News. "He has the same build, the same number. The swing is comparable. The ball jumps off the bat. He's also got that Midwestern approach - quiet, confident."

Burnitz took that confidence to AA Williamsport in 1991 and then AAA Tidewater in 1992. He then first made Queens. He got into 86 games for the Mets that year. He hit .243, with 13 home runs.

He saw another 45 games with the Mets in 1994, before being traded to the Indians for 1995. He then arrived with the Brewers in mid-1996 and he would then become a regular there over the next five seasons.

Burnitz hit .281, with 27 home runs for the Brewers in 1997, then .263, with 38 home runs in 1998. He started that year strong with six home runs by April 10. It was a run that brought up the Maris name again.

"Give me a break," Burnitz told The Associated Press then of the Maris talk. "It's a hot week, that's all it is, a hot week."

Burnitz then hit .270, with 33 home runs in 1999 and earned an All-Star nod.  By the time his career was over, Burnitz had hit 30 or more home runs over six seasons

He stayed with the Brewers through 2001, then returned to the Mets. He then moved to the Dodgers in mid-2003 and the Rockies in 2004. He then ended his career with the Cubs in 2005 and the Pirates in 2006.

Burnitz ended with 1,694 games played, a career average of .253 and 315 career home runs.

Jeromy Burnitz 1990 Pittsfield Mets card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,643
Made the Majors:1,250-34.3%-X
Never Made Majors:2,393-65.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:521-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:307

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