Catch him if you can: Burns flying in Hagerstown

Outfielder Billy Burns has been entertaining the fans of low Single-A Hagerstown with his play and speed in the first month and a half of the season. The Nationals have also taken notice of the Marietta, Ga., product.

The 22-year-old put on a signature display of what he is capable of Thursday in the 13-11 win over Delmarva. Burns went 1-for-4 with two runs, a walk, three stolen bases and one RBI.

The hit was an infield single in which Burns went from home to first base in 3.89 seconds. The average is 4.3 seconds for a right-handed hitter. Later in the game, he stole two bases in the same inning.

Overall, Burns is hitting .312 in 31 games, with four doubles, two triples, 16 stolen bases and 11 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .463. He has been caught stealing only twice.

A comparison by a high-ranking scout was recently made between called-up outfielder Rich Thompson, who was traded last week by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Tampa Bay Rays. Thompson has played in three games this week with the Rays after an illustrious minor league career.

Thompson, who had 237 stolen bases in the minors since 2005, has been lauded for his outstanding speed. This scout said Burns has that type of speed and the ability to make things happen on the basepaths, maybe even more so than Thompson did when he made his pro debut. Thompson had a career-high 58 stolen bases in that first minor league season with Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.

The comparison is high praise for the youngster, who is 10 years junior to Thompson. Burns has played in 31 games for Hagerstown, and I was told that he will still get plenty of playing time, even with the return of center fielder Brian Goodwin.

So keep your eye on Burns, if you can, especially with that 3.89 speed.

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