Feature photo courtesy of Laura Burleson.
Left-handed pitcher Grant Burleson of Parkside High School in Salisbury, Maryland was the ace of the staff during his junior year this season. He posted a 1.94 ERA, but he hadn’t always been the top dog for Parkside. During Burleson’s freshman and sophomore years, Hunter Parsons, now a pitcher for the University of Maryland, was the number one guy.
Parsons had great success in his first season at Maryland, throwing 32.1 innings with a 3.06 ERA. Burleson is looking to follow the path of his former Parkside teammate, and he got a good start by committing to play his college baseball at Maryland back in July 2015. Starting in the 2017-18 school year, Burleson will again team up with the guy he said has helped him a lot.
“Hunter Parsons has had a big impact on my life,” Burleson said. “He’s always pushing me and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him and I look up to him.”
However, reuniting with Parsons wasn’t the only reason Burleson chose Maryland. He cites many other reasons for shipping off to College Park after his senior year at Parkside.
“[Maryland] has great academics. The coaching staff not only wants you to focus on baseball but also school,” Burleson said. “They had a beautiful campus and I always wanted to go to a big school. It’s not too far or too close to home. Their program is on the rise.”
After completing its fourth consecutive 30-win season, the Maryland baseball program is indeed on the rise. It will continue to need great pitching, which is what Burleson can bring to the table. Burleson believes he can contribute for the Terps in multiple roles on the mound.
“Whatever they want to do with me, I’m cool with anything as long as I get playing time,” Burleson said. “If I come out of the bullpen or start, I’m going to be happy with either one.”
Whether Burleson pitches out of the bullpen or earns a spot in the Terps’ starting rotation, he knows the stuff that he brings to the table when he steps on the mound.
“I’m a big believer in the fastball, moving it in and out, up and down, everywhere else and my curveball is definitely my strikeout pitch,” Burleson said. “My changeup is getting better every day but I rely on my fastball the most, and my curveball is really good.”
Although Burleson already has great stuff, which has helped him to a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings pitched during his Parkside career so far, he is always working to improve things. He says that his pitching coach Jamie Evans, who helped him a lot with recruiting, has played a big part in his development.
“[Evans has] done a lot for me,” Burleson said. He says that Evans helped with all of his pitches. Burleson, with the help of Evans, gained velocity on his fastball, became more confident with his offspeed pitches and got better with his control.
Along with Evans, Burleson also credits his trainer, Jordan Palmer and of course his father for his success.
“Every night I come home [my dad is] like, ‘Did you go to the gym?’, just making sure I’m doing everything,” Burleson said.
Burleson works a lot on his on-the-field skills, but he knows that what he brings to a team off the field, which is great leadership, is also very important.
“[It’s important] just being a leader and making sure everybody’s doing their thing, nobody’s slacking and just staying focused.”
Burleson looks to continue to bring that leadership to his senior season at Parkside, where he and his teammates are setting their sights on something that Parkside has never done before.
“I just wanna end the season on a ‘W’. Parkside’s never ended the year on a ‘W’. That’d be something great,” Burleson said. “I know two years ago we lost in the state championship and I didn’t play that much but just seeing the loss, I knew it was heartbreaking. If we could get there next year I’d be very happy. I think I need to be a good leader not just when I’m pitching but at the plate too.”
Burleson says that personally he would like to have a sub-2.00 ERA for the third consecutive year in his senior season. He would also like to cut down on his walks, which have been a problem so far in his high school career, as he’s walked 42 batters in 45 innings.
If Burleson needs help cutting down on the walks, he can always go to Parsons, who only allowed 10 walks this season for Maryland. Burleson hopes that Parsons can help him with a lot of thing once they are both teammates again in College Park.
“I know when I’m a freshman I’m gonna be nervous like he was, but [Parsons] just telling me what he did to prepare will be a big help,” Burleson said.
Grant Burleson, alongside his former high school teammate Hunter Parsons, is looking to continue the upward trend of success for Maryland Terrapins baseball.
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