Toronto Blue Jays Earl Burl III joined Jays From the Couch to discuss being drafted, his first taste of professional baseball and the journey.
Earl Burl III was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 30th round of the 2015 draft. Not many young men drafted in the 30th round ever get a chance to play in the major leagues, but don’t tell Earl.
This young man has overcome many obstacles to get to where he is today and accomplish the things he has accomplished. From having his family uprouted after Hurricane Katrina flooded his beloved city to shoulder problems as a freshman pitcher to breaking his jaw in a game this past March. Despite all these challenges Burl III continues to persevere. He became the first New Orleans Urban Youth Academy product ever to be drafted, he was one of seven players from SWAC (Southwest Athletic Conference) drafted in the 2015 draft, and he earned a business administration degree with plans to eventually head to law school.
The native of Marrero, Louisiana gives his parents, Earl Burl Jr and Tanjala, credit for much of his success, but the respect he feels for his father is transparent. He credits his father for instilling characteristics and values that make him the person and ball player he is today. Burl III recounts memories of the countless hours he and his father spent hitting, working out, and building the young man as a baseball player.
Earl Burl Jr taught his son that there are consequences for every decision; whether good or bad. This forced him to thoroughly examine his options and the outcome of every choice made. Earl Burl Jr also taught his son about sacrifice. Despite living in Dallas, Earl’s father continues to travel eight hours to and from New Orleans for work on a weekly basis. Sacrificing time spent with his three sons (Earl, Gavin and Chase), his wife, and his leisure time just to provide for his family.
Earl on how he repays his father for his sacrifices:
This still pales in comparison to all that he does for us to enjoy the lifestyle we now have. So the least I can do is make his sacrifice worth every moment by being the greatest son I can be.
After signing with the Toronto Blue Jays organization on June 14th, Burl III reported to the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League on June 18th. In his first game, Earl collected 2 doubles in 4 at-bats with 3 RBI, 2 stolen bases, a walk and strike out. Not a bad debut. After a strong June (.250 BA), the New Orleans native struggled hitting .213 and .171 in July and August.
Earl considers his athleticism to be his greatest strength and feels that he displays each of the 5 tools. Although he didn’t hit any home runs, he showed decent power with 8 doubles and a triple. He also takes pride in his defense.
I believe that you can assist in saving runs just as much as you can help in producing them.
The 6-1 outfielder understands that to succeed, he’ll need to become more consistent. Not just become more consistent, but get to point where consistently performing at high level becomes second nature.
During his first professional season Earl realized that running on Lo-A pitchers in the Northwestern League was going to be challenging,
My stolen bases were down this year for a combination of reasons. From the pitcher standpoint, yes it was tougher. Not to knock any of the catchers in the league but catchers from my college conference had stronger arms. They had to because the SWAC is notorious for speedy and athletic position players. Of course, the catchers in the northwest are much better hitters but those guys in the SWAC had to have cannons to survive. But from the opposing pitchers, guys were much better at changing looks, quicker to the plate, and all around smarter than what I was used to. Next year, I plan on making all the necessary adjustments to have a great season on the base paths. Most of it is mental adjustments.
Fangraphs.com lists Earl’s speed as 5.9. In 101 games between Alcorn State and Vancouver, Earl stole 29 bases and was caught 9 times. With the C’s, Earl Burl III the was 9-for-14, but fatigue may have played a role. After stealing 6-of-7 bases in June, his running game disappeared as he went 2-for-4 and 1-for-3 in July and August.
With fresh legs and a full off-season to prepare for the rigors of what will be his first full professional season in Lansing, Earl Burl III will show the same hunger and competitiveness that his sports idol, Kobe Bryant, has shown throughout his career. Burl III admires the way Kobe went about his business when people doubted him, and how he always seemed to prove the naysayers wrong, a true winner.
Earl’s words to live by:
‘To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better Than facing fearful odds, For the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his gods.’ This is from the poem Horatius by Thomas Babington Macaulay.
Look for Earl Burl III to start the 2016 with the A-Ball Lansing Lugnuts.
We wish him luck in 2016.
*Featured Image Credit: 3dpete UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0