Mar 6, 2014; Salt River Pima-Maricopa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics outfielder Billy Burns (19) is caught in a run down between first and second base in the sixth inning of their spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

A's call up speedy outfielder Billy Burns from Double-A

While calling up Billy Burns is extremely exciting news, it also comes with a loss. It was reported today by John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that outfielder Craig Gentry, 30, has been put on the disabled list with a broken hand. However, Burns is as fast as they come. He came over to the Athletics organization in the trade that sent lefty-reliever Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals and will be the first rookie the A’s have used all season.

Back before the season began I made the bold prediction that Billy Burns would make the A’s Opening Day roster. It was a bold statement to make for a kid that was sent down to Double-A Midland on the very last possible day. While top prospect Addison Russell, who was traded to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, sat out most of Spring Training with an injury and pretty much the first half of the season with another injury, Burns was doing his thing.

What is this thing? Stealing bases and making unbelievable outfield catches. He was with the club through the very last day possible to keep him so my bold prediction was not far off. He’s  been called up before September when each team’s roster expands.

Burns has hit just .250 for Midland this season but he has 51 stolen bases already. Did I mention the kid was quick? Out of 60 chances he has only been thrown out five times. Burns makes a good center fielder because of his speed. With Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp still having problems with his neck, Burns is the perfect selection to replace them.

With his speed and stellar defensive skills Burns can fill the hole left by the two ailing outfielders. He is fast like Gentry who has 18 stolen bases this year. Burns also has the will to take over both Gentry’s and Crisp’s abilities to keep the outfield territory covered.

Gentry ranks third in the American League in stolen base percentage (94.7), is tied for ninth in steals and is tied for sixth with seven assists. Gentry hopes to return prior to the end of the season. Yet, according to Shea, he won’t be able to practice/start rehabbing at all for at least two weeks.

Gentry ranks third in the American League in stolen base percentage (94.7) and tied for ninth in steals, and has seven assists, which is tied for sixth among AL outfielders. He was hitting .264 at the time of his injury.

Burns, like Crisp, is a switch hitter. He learned to switch hit while in the minor leagues with the Nationals. There are very few hitters who learn to do so that late in life but it worked for Burns because he’s got talent and batting left-handed he is that much closer to first base.

What I’d really like to see is a race between the Cincinnati Reds’ Billy Hamilton and the A’s young speedster Billy Burns. I saw the 25-year-old run at spring training this year, and let me tell you, 0nce you see him run he will make you say, “Billy Hamilton who?’

 

 

Tags: Billy Burns Billy Hamilton Coco Crisp Craig Gentry Oakland Athletics

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