Two days after its starting center fielder said goodbye, Nebraska has found another leading contender for the job.
Former Kansas outfielder and Grand Island product Casey Burnham committed to the Huskers out of the portal as a graduate transfer on Saturday as NU’s busy stretch of roster moves continues. Burnham will be a fifth-year player next season — the speedy left-hander has started 100 college games and is a career .257 hitter.
“I had an opportunity to come back home and play in my home state,” said Burnham, who entered the portal last week. “It’s kind of hard to pass that up.”
Burnham comes aboard two days after senior outfielder Cam Chick elected not to use his fifth season of eligibility. Like Chick, Burnham gets on base — he reached at a clip of more than 41% with Kansas this season despite a wrist injury that limited him to 27 games.
Burnham — a high school track medalist in multiple sprint events — also puts bat on ball. He’s struck out just 78 times in 414 plate appearances and frequently reaches on bunt hits. He owns 25 college steals. And with three career errors, he’s a defensive asset, as well.
“I use my speed the best I can,” Burnham said. “I’m going to look to put the ball in play and put pressure on the defense. I have pride in my short game.”
The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder turns 23 this week as he embarks for summer ball in Alaska.
Burnham entered the portal in part because of the retirement of longtime KU coach Ritch Price, which became official last week. But player and coach had previously discussed the potential best finish to Burnham’s baseball career being in his home state building on a finance degree he earned in Lawrence. Price helped start the dialogue with Nebraska, which had Burnham in for a campus visit Friday.
“They thought I could bring something to the team next year,” Burnham said. “It was a quick process.”
Burnham becomes the 18th known addition to the team for next season, joining 10 junior college transfers and seven high school prospects. Six Huskers entered the portal last week, while Chick was the first senior with extra eligibility to declare his intentions.
“You always dream of putting on that Husker red,” Burnham said. “I’m pumped to play in front of a great fan base and get started.”
Looking back at the last five seasons of Nebraska baseball