By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
The Vancouver Canadians kicked off their season yesterday and we caught up with their newest player and starting center fielder, Earl Burl III, to provide us some insight into his experience in baseball and in college.
Burl, in addition to having a great name (which you’ll see plenty of digital ink spilled about), has had a fascinating upbringing, growing up in New Orleans but leaving the city after Hurricane Katrina. A business administration major at Alcorn State University, Burl starred for their team and was selected by the Blue Jays in the 30th round of the 2015 draft. With his speed, he bears some similarity to the under-the-radar signing of Roemon Fields, who is currently plying his trade with Dunedin, but I think that Burl is going to provide more power and could be a player more in the mold of guys like D.J. Davis and Anthony Alford.
Here is Burl in his own words.
Blue Jays from Away: What was your first reaction on draft day when you found out that the Blue Jays had selected you? Had you heard from Blue Jays scouts prior to the draft?
Earl Burl III: On day 3 of the draft I found myself glued to the draft tracker on my iPad along with some family members. As soon as I received a phone call from a scout within the organization, my name popped up on the draft tracker list and my mother, grandmother, and girlfriend all began screaming at once. BUT My first reaction was more along the lines of “man there goes your name ... You did it ... Wait you actually did it.” And then wham! It was a sudden burst of euphoria. It all seemed so surreal. I had to leave the room to finish the phone call but before I could even put the phone down from my ear I was being hugged tightly by my mother whose eyes began overflowing with tears of joy. It was a very emotional moment for us but even more exciting.
Yes I did hear from the Jays before the draft. The scout who first saw me play was in contact with me the weeks before the draft. I also went to a pre draft workout in Dallas, TX.
BJfA: You only played one year full time in college. Was it a surprise that you were drafted at all?
EBIII: I actually played my entire junior year as well. When I was drafted, I will say that I was surprised because you never know with the draft. I also will say that I was aware of possibly being drafted because of the scouts who I was speaking with and the pre draft workouts I was attending. But again you never know.
BJfA: From reading about you, it’s clear that your education was very important to you. Few MLB draftees actually complete their degrees in four years - was that pressure to excel in your academics from your family? Did it come from you? Was it different from your teammates at Alcorn?
EBIII: Yes it is important to me because like you said there aren’t many draftees who have earned their degree in four years. The pressure and encouragement to pursue my degree did come from both of my parents. They have always reminded me that being the older brother required me to set the best example I possibly could. My two younger brothers, now 18 and 15, are one of the reasons why I work so hard to become the best man I can become.
My desire to pursue my degree wasn’t that much different from most of my teammates at Alcorn because that’s the trade off of you being a college athlete and representing your university. But just as any other sports program there is that rare few who feel as if they are only their to play sports.
BJfA: On a similar note, what led you to choosing your major of business administration and how do you see it informing your future career choices in baseball and outside of it?
EBIII: I chose to major in business administration because the many different directions I can go with that sort of degree. One day I would like to go to law school and earn a JDMBA.
Once I’m done playing baseball I would love to stay involved with the game in some way. Hopefully I’ll be able to play in the big leagues for a long time and come back to work for the organization that drafted me.
BJfA: I’ve read that you consider your home to be New Orleans despite leaving after Hurrican Katrina. How often do you return? How does being from NOLA make you different? How has it influenced your approach to the game of baseball?
EBIII: I return to NOLA about two or three times a year. Both of my grandmothers still live there so I try to get back down and see them as much as I can.
Being from that historical city makes me different because of the journey that has come with being from there. After Hurricane Katrina, I moved to Dallas, which wasn’t an easy transition for me and my family. My mother lost her job and my father still travels eight hours each way to and from Dallas just to work. (Week on: three days off or week off: three days on; it varies) The relocation from my hometown, from my friends and sacrifice made my by my parents to provide for our family has fueled me to work extremely hard and fight through whatever adversity in order to reach my goals and dreams. That’s why I approach the game of baseball and workouts with a certain aggression and hunger. I believe that God puts us through tough situations so that we may come out much stronger and more faithful than we were before.
BJfA: From what I’ve read, your game is built around speed. How do you see yourself as a player? What do you think you’ll bring to the Blue Jays’ organization?
EBIII: Yes speed is a major part of my game and I hope to improve more on that as I move up the ranks. But as a player, I believe I display each of the five tools. Some more than others of course, basically what I’m saying is I’m not a homerun threat every time I step in the box but I do have the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Also I take great pride in my defense, I believe that you can assist in saving runs just as much as you can help in producing them.
I think I will bring to the organization an attitude of one hundred percent effort every day and every play and the will to become a great player and teammate.
BJfA: Why did you choose Alcorn University?
EBIII: I chose Alcorn state because of the high ranking schedule we played my time there. I figured if I could perform against those major programs even though I wasn’t apart of one, then I would be in good shape come my time to move to the next level.
BJfA: What do you know about Toronto? Is there any significance to the Blue Jays playing outside of the United States?
EBIII: I don’t know much outside of what I’ve been told and heard through lyrics by Torontos’ homegrown artist Drake haha. Plenty of people have told me that it is a beautiful place filled with great people who love their professional teams.
Yeah I believe there is a significance of the Blue Jays playing out of the U.S. because to me it is as if this organization not only represents Toronto but all of Canada in the MLB.
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