BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Corbin Burnes' lighting-fast ascension through the Brewers' Minor League ranks has caught the eyes of many, including Burnes himself.
"It's actually been crazy," the Shuckers pitcher said. "To think it's only been a year, it's just gone so quick."
Just one year in to his professional career, Burnes boasts a combined 1.21 earned run average this year between his stints with Biloxi and Advanced-A Carolina, good for the lowest ERA of all qualifying pitchers in Minor League Baseball.
"I've got a great group of coaches here," Burnes said. "Here and in the Brewers' system that have helped me along, I've come a long way from college."
And what a collegiate run it was. Going 9-2 with a 2.48 ERA with 120 strikeouts, Burnes led St. Mary's to the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship, and the Gaels' first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
"That was crazy," Burnes said of that season. "Going into my freshman year, we won 16 games. That was a crazy year from start to finish. Nobody expected us to do any better than fifth or sixth in our conference, let alone win the conference, win the tournament and make our first tournament appearance."
Declaring for the Major League Baseball draft as a junior, some expected Burnes to go as early the first day. As it turns out, that didn't happen. Milwaukee selected the California native in the fourth round.
"It's not maybe as high as I wanted to or what a lot of people said, but I'm just happy to be picked," Burnes told California TV station KERO the day he was drafted. "It's a dream come true."
From St. Mary's to the second day in the draft, to now, Biloxi, that underdog mentality still fuels Burnes to this day.
"Definitely, I think it helps push me along," Burnes said. "(It) gives me that extra drive to get out here every day, put in the work in the weight room, on the field, in the bullpen sessions. Just to keep moving along through the system and just know that I belong."
It would be hard to find someone who doesn't think he belongs. Burnes only earned his first professional lost in his 21st start, and at one point threw a scoreless streak of 22.1 innings for the Shuckers.
"You have to be a competitor out there on the mound, so does every other position on the field," Shuckers manager Mike Guerrero said. "But he has that extra gear of being competitive, and that's what makes him really special."
The 22-year-old has thrown 32 strikeouts in five games with the Shuckers. If he keeps making teams 'feel the Burnes' at this rate, the Brewers' 20th-rated prospect may not be in Biloxi for long.
"I've always had pretty good stuff in college, it's just command has been the issue," Burnes said. "These changes we've made, squaring me up, use my legs more, taking some pressure off the arm has really helped with my command. I'd probably say right at this point is the best baseball I've ever played."