According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN and other sources, the Padres have agreed to send outfielder Aaron Cunningham to the Cleveland Indians for right-handed minor league relief pitcher Cory Burns. The deal gives the Padres another pitching prospect to work with while relieving themselves of Cunningham who probably wouldn’t find a place to play with the big league club.
In 147.1 innings pitched, Burns has compiled a slim 2.02 ERA, 188 strikeouts, and just 35 walks. He also has 88 minor league saves. Burns is only 24, and if he can continue to improve, work his way through Triple-A, and WHIP as low as it currently is (0.971) he could make it to the Major League club very quickly. Josh Byrnes may be thinking about the near future with this trade. Huston Street, by all accounts, will only be with the team for the 2012 season, then the Padres will need another new closer. Burns has had success on the minor league level as a closer, and could very well be in the Padres’ plans once Street moves on.
As for Cunningham, the Padres have tried him out on many occasions. Although he has only had 248 plate appearances with the Padres, he has failed to impress. His career line of .231/.290/.375 is actually slightly worse than his career line with the Padres. With San Diego he has a triple-slash of .243/.301/.396. The Padres have Cameron Maybin, Chris Denorfia, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, and a slew of minor league talent that may be ready for the Major League level soon. Cunningham simply has nowhere to play.
Burns was drafted in the 8th round of the 2009 Amateur Player Draft. According to IndiansProspectInsider.com, Burns has a 88-91 mph tailing fastball. He has a good change-up and a knuckle-curve. He throws with a sidearm motion which likely deceives the batter into thinking his fastball is faster than it actually is. Burns has risen from the forgotten and disregarded to a legitimate prospect based on his 2011 season. The question is whether he can keep it up. The Padres and Josh Byrnes are betting that he can and hope to see him in a Padres uniform very soon.
Below is video of Burns courtesy of IndiansProspectInsider.com: