Devin Burkes, the catcher for the Kentucky baseball team, played a significant role in the Cats’ success during the Southeastern Conference tournament last year. Burkes started playing sparingly last season, with only nine at-bats through the end of April. However, in May, he got his chance to play and made the most of it. He had hits in five consecutive games, including a couple of must-win games against Auburn in the final weekend of the regular season. Burkes broke out during the SEC Tournament and played a vital role in helping the Cats advance. He hit two homers and drove in five runs in a game against LSU and had a hit and two runs in each of the next two games as the Cats beat Vanderbilt and LSU.
Burkes’ strong finish to the 2022 season makes head coach Nick Mingione hopeful that he will continue to excel this season. With so many new faces on the team this year, having a strong presence at catcher will be crucial to the team’s success. Mingione believes that Burkes is perfectly suited to be that leader. He has seen Burkes develop as a catcher and praised his skills. Burkes is an excellent communicator and can give the pitcher the message they need at the time, whether it’s getting in someone’s butt or telling them a joke. According to Mingione, Burkes is an “absolute wall” who can catch, throw, and communicate.
Burkes is comfortable in his leadership role and has always been a leader, even when he wasn’t on the field all the time last season. He hopes that the Cats will stay focused on winning and remain committed to the team throughout the season. As a redshirt sophomore, Burkes has a lot of potential to continue growing and to become an even stronger leader on the team.
Kentucky’s 2023 season opens on Friday, February 17, at Elon. The team’s home portion of the schedule begins on Tuesday, February 21. With Burkes leading the team, the Cats are poised to have a successful season and make another run at the SEC Tournament.