The former West Orange High standout and summer ball veteran of the Winter Garden Squeeze had a power surge this past spring in his debut season at Florida Southern. As a result, he may hear his name called during this week's MLB Draft.
There is an evolution happening to the game of West Orange alum Cody Burgess.
Burgess, a center fielder for the Winter Garden Squeeze this summer, is a rising senior at Florida Southern, where he transferred after starting his collegiate career at Polk State College.
Through his two seasons there, Burgess hit for average, batting .340 as a sophomore. Power wasn’t a big a part of the equation, with Burgess homering just once in two seasons as an Eagle.
Then, while playing for the Winter Garden Squeeze last summer, there was a slight uptick in power — Burgess homered three times. A small difference, perhaps, but that wasn’t the way Squeeze head coach Jay Welsh saw it.
“I remember one ball he took and hit off the corner of the batter’s eye, and I was like, ‘Wow,’” Welsh said.
So, when Burgess homered 14 times for the Moccasins this spring — while also batting .325 and driving in 52 runs — Welsh, at least, wasn’t surprised.
Now, that uptick in power paired with the things he has always done well — from flashing the leather in the outfield to stealing bases — has something new on the radar for Burgess: next week’s Major League Baseball Draft June 12.
“(Burgess) doesn’t need the reps, but he’s got things he could work on it,” Welsh said, acknowledging that one of his better players may not be around for the entirety of the summer. “Because, maybe if his power numbers that just started to emerge jump a little bit higher, maybe he’s a draft guy.”
And while Burgess isn’t quite ready to talk about inking a pro contract just yet, he is happy to name those things upon which he is still working to improve — and to shower a little credit and praise upon the Squeeze, where he has played for three of his college summer ball seasons.
”Last year, we had Eddie (Taubensee) here,” Burgess said. “He’s obviously an ex-Major Leaguer, and he helped me a lot with my swing. … We have coaches here (with the Squeeze) who know what they’re talking about.”
Even though his time back in Winter Garden could be cut short, that doesn’t mean he somewhere he’d rather be.
“You have to play more baseball in order to get better,” Burgess said. “That’s why I don’t take summer off.”
And although he acknowledges he and his teammates are there for personal improvement, he still said he’d like to win some games and end his run at the The Trop.
“The only time I’ve ever been there is going to watch the Rays play,” he said. “It would be kinda nice to play there — especially for my last season.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].