In 1998, the KC Royals selected right-handed pitcher Matt Burch with their second pick of the first round (30th overall). The college junior out of Virginia Commonwealth went 12-4 in his final year as a Ram (after going just 14-14 over his first two seasons). He pitched in 18 games and still holds the VCU record for most complete games in 1998 (11). He also struck out 122, which is second all-time at VCU.
He was also inducted into the VCU Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for the Royals, Burch did not reach the big leagues like former VCU teammate (and second round pick in 1998) Brandon Inge did (he was the VCU closer at the same time).
Burch’s best season was 2001 with High-A Wilmington (his second season with the Blue Rocks). He was just 11-10, but carried a 3.70 ERA in 28 games (22 starts). Over 148.1 innings, he struck out 92 but was also a little wild. He walked 50 and hit 21 batters.
2003 was not a bad season for Burch, but he spent 21 games pitching out of the bullpen for Low-A Burlington and then Wilmington. His ERA was under 2.70 and he racked up two saves. However, the Royals cut him loose and he signed with independent league Fargo-Moorhead. In 11 games there, his ERA was 5.01, as he allowed 37 hits and 20 walks in just 32.1 innings.
Burch’s final season playing ball was in 2004 when he played in Elmira (his hometown), where he split time as both a starter and a reliever. He was 2-6 with four saves.
Walks were always a problem throughout his career in the Royals minor league system. Burch walked a total of 222 batters across 474.2 innings.
In 2007, Burch became manager of the Elmira Pioneers, who won the New York Collegiate Baseball League’s title that season. He returned to the helm in 2013, where the Pioneers won the Western Division (21-26) and lost the best-of-three finals (1-2) of the now Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League.
Every summer, Burch runs his Matt Burch Championship Baseball summer camp (2014 will be the ninth year) for kids ages 3-12. This past summer, it was held at Dunn Field in Elmira and some of his Pioneers players helped out (along with his coaching staff). Burch also gives personal pitching lessons to the first year tee-ball player or the high school senior looking to pitch in college.
Check out the highlight video of his camp:
Tags: Kansas City Royals