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Daily News from New York, New York • Page 49
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Daily News from New York, New York • Page 49

Daily Newsi
New York, New York
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Sunday, July 15, 1990 DAILY SPORTS NEWS 49 nns juJDDQCDD3 MMm Mets' No. 1 pick Jeromy Burnitz looks to make his own impression till By CHARLES EUCHNER Special To The News (ITTSFIELD, Mass. The resemblance, his manager says, is eerie. It's been a long time since Roger Maris played for the Yankees, but Jim Eschen, manager of the Pittsfield Mets of the Class A-New York-Penn League, says he thinks of Maris whenever 21-year-old Jeromy Burnitz comes to the plate. A crew-cutted, left-handed hitter game NCAA tournament he hit .273.

IT 1 1 1 x' Pitchers threw him a lot of junk when they saw how well he handled hiVt f-V 7 il i I I (. "-ULLU ROGER AND ME: Mets plucked Jeromy Burnitz out of Oklahoma State, which has produced major-leaguers Robin Ventura, Pete Incaviglia and Mickey TettJeton. But not Roger Maris. iOBiiCoofwuaii Berkshire eague who wears No. 9 on his pinstripes, Burnitz was the Mets' top pick in this year's amateur draft and 17th selection overall.

Eschen knows that a comparison to Maris can be burdensome maybe a more mortal comparison would be Steve Kemp, the former Yankee with whom Eschen played in the Detroit Tigers' system. But Eschen can't help but see baseball's, single-season home run king in the 6-0, 195-pound Burnitz. "I used to watch Roger Maris all the time at Yankee Stadium," said Eschen. "It is eerie because he reminds you of Maris in so. many ways.

He has the same build, the same number. The swing is comparable. The ball jumps off the bat He's also got that Midwestern approach quiet, confident." Of course, it's way too soon to translate spooky similarities into expectations. Burnitz's pro career is young, and he is coming off a disappointing season in college. After being named All-America at Oklahoma State his junior season Burnitz stuggled in his final year OSU made it to the College World Series final with a 56-17 record, but Burnitz never hit consistenly.

iHe joined Pittsfield late in the season because he had his wisdom teeth extracted and, consequently, got off to a slow start In his first 15 games, Burnitz was hitting .255 with one home run and three RBI. In three years of college ball, the Conroe, Texas native hit .325 with 44 home runs and 186 RBI in 190 games. This spring he slipped to .288 with 12 homers in 243 at-bats. In the eight- fastballs. Burnitz was too impatient to adjust "I started to think too much about mechanics," Burnitz said.

"When you lose your confidence you start to overanalyze." The Mets did some analyzing of their own, scouting Burnitz for more than three years. He scored well on the franchise's vaunted psychological tests. So hedging their bets on his raw skills, the Mets made him their top selection despite his production dropoff. If Burnitz can develop the skills he displayed in his first two college seasons, the Mets may have lucked out in grabbing a player who didn't impress others. Lefthanded power is a hot commodity these days.

Even during his sub-par season, Burnitz's shots often created buzzing. A home run at Baylor was "light-tower high" when it -went out, recalls his college coach Gary Ward. Two other homers at the Unversity of Hawaii traveled at least 450 feet in an environment where the ball does not carry well. "You only have to have seen those shots to be very forgiving about everything else you see," says Ward. "If I were scouting, I'd look for the tools and gamble I can find a key to make the rest better.

Only two or three other players I've seen in the last three years have his kind of power tools the wrists, the strength." Burnitz, whose father and brother are commercial pilots, says he, too, would have turn to flying if baseball didn't work out "That was my next Now as he endures that life of bus rides and a $850 monthly salary, the majors remain a long way off, albeit a bit closer. "No matter how good you are, it's always a change from amateur to pro ball," said Estfien. "He's going to find out that the other players don't care who he is. He has to be patient whether it takes VA years or three or four years. Don't be in such a hurry that you forget to do the job at hand.

"Impatience is one of the things he better overcome if he's going to make it" dream to be a fighter pilot he says. "I'm an all-or-none person. If I fly, I want to be a fighter pilot If I play ball, I want to make the major leagues." Drafted by Milwaukee on the 24th round of the 1987 draft, Burnitz opted for college instead. The Brewers had offered a $50,000 bonus. His waiting paid off literally.

In signing with the Mets, he nearly quadrupled his money. More than the money, however, Burnitz chose college because he didn't feel he was ready for the rigors of minor-league life. g3 1t A 7 r3 i "1 FISSURES, WARTS, FISTULAS and most other RECTAL problems successfully permanently treated in minutes in our modern offices using local anesthetic -A No pain, no bleeding, in most cases, return to normal activities immediately. Our advanced techniques require NO general anesthesia or sedation. Most insurances accepted as payment.

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