Danny Burawa’s road to Major League Baseball took a u-turn when he suffered a back injury they ended his 2012 season before it began. He experienced another setback at the intersection of Scranton, PA and Trenton, NJ, but the young right-hander has not let the detours get too deep in his head.
Rather, the Riverhead, NY native is trying to make the best out of his second go-around with the New York Yankees’ AA minor league affiliate.
“It’s not like this was a rehab assignment I just wasn’t getting the job done in Triple A,” says the right-handed. “I came back here, poured for a day, but then I got my focus back up now I feel like I refound the strike zone.”
Burawa has been around New York baseball ever since his amatuer days. After graduating from Rocky Point High School, Burawa was part of the Red Storm at St. John’s. Previously, the Johhnie’s had boasted well-known Major League pitchers like CJ Nitowski and John Franco. In the 2010 MLB amateur Draft, Burawa was a 12th round selection of the New York Yankees, the last pick of the round and 385th overall.
“That was such a great feeling,” recalls Burawa. “The novelty of that still hasn’t worn off. I grew up a Yankees fan and now it’s cool to be an employee.”
His Yankees journey began in the year he was drafted with a brief stint with Single A Staten Island, a stop that saw him strike out 10 batters in 7 innings. In 2012, he split time with Tampa and Charleston, putting up a 5-4 record to go along with 5 saves and 66 strikeouts. He would end 2012 with a 3.64 ERA before the injury struck.
After a strenuous rehabilitation, Burawa returned to baseball in 2013. Upon his return, he was assigned to the AA Trenton Thunder. Rather than showing any signs of rust or decay, Burawa put up impressive numbers with a 6-3 record with four saves, not to mention a career low 2.59 ERA. To cap it all off, the Thunder would go on to defeat the Harrisburg Senators in the Eastern League championship series, capping off a perfect postseason where they went 6-0. Burawa was a part of Trenton’s bullpen in the championship run.
Following the success of 2013, Burawa started the 2014 baseball season in Scranton-Wilkes Barre, but his time in The Electric City was not as successful as Michael Scott’s. In 30 appearances with the Railriders, Burawa recorded a 6.75 ERA, though in that time he did manage to record 4 saves and a 3-1 record.
“I think I’ve improved on everything since I came back to Trenton,” Burawa said. “I’m actually throwing harder than when I was in Scranton.”
On July 25, an A was removed from Burawa’s status, as he was optioned back to the Trenton Thunder. The demotion was difficult from him, but he nonetheless accepted the hand that had been dealt to him. Burawa again took a spot in the Trenton bullpen, and his numbers were very similar to the patrons of Arm and Hammer Park. With the late July arrival, he made only 11 appearances, but still managed a 1.59 ERA in that span, striking out 18 batters in 17 innings. He did not record a decision in that span. The Trenton experience gave allowed him to lower his total ERA on the year to 4.70.
“I would say Trenton has been the most embracing,” said Burawa when talking about his numerous baseball stops. “I never want the minor leagues to be my home but this has felt the most like that so far.”
Trenton manager Tony Franklin was enthusiastic when discussing his young bullpen prospect.
“Danny had a little bit of a setback in Triple A this year but ever since he returned I’ve seen a lot of the things that made people talk about him,” said the veteran Trenton manager. “His slider is very good. All he needs to do is be more consistent, then I can’t see why he can’t pitch in the big leagues.”
It’s unknown where Burawa will begin the 2015 season, as he is eligible for the annual Rule V draft for the second consecutive year, but for now he will dedicate the rest of the calendar year as well as winter 2015 to returning to the form that caused the Yankees to draft him in the first place. The return to Trenton was a good start. Sometimes you have to take a step back to move a step or two forward. Danny Burawa experienced the first part of that this summer, but if the Trenton experience is any indication, the latter will surely come to fruition.