‘Treating his body like a business’: Y-D’s Drew Burress relentlessly developed his body before dominating college baseball 

Before joining Y-D for the Cape League season, Drew Burress was named Perfect Game’s National Freshman of the Year
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Most mirrors are meant to reflect what lies in front of them. They show a spitting image of their surroundings and aren’t meant for much more. But when Drew Burress stared into his mirror as a high schooler, he saw his future. Across the glass, Burress wrote down goals.

Burress’ father, Andy Burress, instilled in him that he needed to set goals and write them down daily. Still, even he was shocked to see his 15-year-old son in his freshman year of high school set lofty expectations for himself across his mirror. Throughout Burress’ first two years of high school, Andy said he achieved practically every goal he had set for himself. So going into his junior year, he became more ambitious.

“FIRST ROUND PICK,” the mirror read to Burress every time he looked at it.

Despite dominating his last two years of high school, becoming the 2021-22 Prep Baseball Report Georgia Player of the Year and earning 2023 Perfect Game All-America and Under Armour All-America honors, Burress was not among the 39 first-round picks in the 2023 MLB Draft. Burress still could’ve opted for a substantial signing bonus on Day 2. Instead, he called Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall and associate head coach James Ramsey letting them know he was officially honoring his commitment to Georgia Tech.

“Especially with guys out of high school, they like to draft projectability,” Burress said. “It’s one of those things that’s not necessarily one of the first terms that guys think of when they’re watching me. (Ramsey) gave me a good quote before the draft: ‘They draft out of projectability in high school, but they draft the best players out of college.’ It’s one of those things that if I come to school and continue to put up numbers, it doesn't matter. Nothing else matters.”

Fast forward a year, Burress is now playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox after being the best freshman in the country in 2024. Across 58 games with the Yellow Jackets, he hit .381/.512/.821 drawing 58 walks compared to 37 strikeouts and hitting 25 home runs. His 190 wRC+ ranked eighth among 2,225 qualified Division I players and he became just the 24th freshman in D-I history to earn Baseball America All-America First Team honors. Two years from now, Burress looks well on his way toward becoming a first-round pick in 2026, the next year he’s eligible for the draft.

“He hasn’t done anything to surprise me,” Ramsey said. “And that doesn't mean that the success is not incredible, to stare down the barrel and turn down a million dollars and stare down the barrel of supposed to be famous and highly ranked. But nothing with him surprises me because I’m in the cages with him early in the morning or late at night… He has this unwavering appetite for just being elite.”

For the 5-foot-9 Burress, it was easy for scouts to gloss over him as a high school prospect. Now, they can’t look past him. From hitting four homers in one game to leading GT back to the NCAA Tournament, his domination can’t be ignored.

Burress has shined on the diamond from a young age. Guided by Andy, a Minor Leaguer from 1995-2001 and the President and Owner of 5 Star National — the largest travel baseball organization in the country — Burress has had a bat in his hands for as long as he can remember.

Andy, who originally joked that his biggest concern was that Burress wouldn’t be good enough to play for 5 Star National once he was old enough, quickly saw his son become the face of his franchise. Burress began impressing college coaches — including Ramsey — when he made USA Baseball’s 15U team playing up a year as a 14-year-old.

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Drew Burress started all nine of Y-D's first nine games. He is headed to Cary, NC to play with Team USA, but will return to the Red Sox afterward.

But to get to the point where he was consistently among the elite players in the country as he progressed, Burress worked relentlessly to develop his body.

“I've always been a guy with some power. I work hard in the weight room. And I attribute a lot of it to that,” Burress said.

Around when he made Team USA, Andy began taking his son to a facility in Atlanta — a nearly two-hour car ride from their home — to train and develop his body. Andy said Burress was training there three times a week and the facility, which he did not disclose the name of, was where many Atlanta Braves players worked out.

“Naturally he always had a good bat path, naturally always had a good arm angle, naturally he could run,” Andy said. “When you start adding strength to that, it takes you to the next level.”

Though to reach an unprecedented level, Burress began working with Travis Grimes at Playmaker Sport Performance, nearly 15 minutes from his house. Grimes was new to the industry as a private trainer, but the Burresses heard good reviews and wanted to check him out. Burress quickly committed to training with Grimes full-time.

Grimes said he thought Burress was just a normal kid when he met him for the first time. Soon after beginning to work with him, he quickly realized Burress’ work ethic was “different” from anyone he’d ever trained.

“Off of first impression, just looking at his build, and everything like that, me not knowing him, I would say that's gonna be pretty difficult to have the kind of success that he's had,” Grimes said. “But after getting to know him, the way he conducts himself and seeing all of his metrics, seeing the way he plays the game, no level of success will surprise me with Drew.”

In their first workout together, Grimes said Burress was pretty good at everything thrown at him but couldn’t hold a side plank. A year later, Grimes said Burress excelled holding a complex starfish side plank variation.

Coupling his work ethic with a desire to be a first-round pick, Burress dominated his workouts with Grimes, which were catered toward making him the best five-tool player he could be. Their “big three” workouts consisted of trap bar deadlifts, reverse lunges and chin-ups.

Grimes’ goal for anyone he trains is to have their trap bar deadlift — an exercise meant to develop force — over two times their body weight. Burress achieved that the summer before his sophomore year of high school, deadlifting 405 pounds. Just over two years later, the 182-pound Burress was deadlifting 630 pounds, over three times his body weight.

Because of how advanced Burress became, Grimes shifted their focus to see how fast he could move the bar as opposed to seeing how much weight he could move. Grimes said that most high school players don't get to that point and that it’s mostly older college and more advanced players that focus on how fast they can move the bar — which better develops producing power. He said they started focusing on that when Burress was a junior in high school.

One of Grimes’ favorite moments training Burress was a workout with him and Bricen Smith, an incoming Mizzouri baseball freshman. After they each completed their sets for the day, neither wanted to stop until they could outlast the other. Burress was victorious after an additional eight sets.

“I'm not really particularly a betting man. But if I was, I'm not gonna bet against that guy, that's for sure,” Grimes said of Burress.

Opposed to developing force, reverse lunges are meant to develop lower body strength. Grimes said that a clean pattern helps translate to high-level throwing, running and hitting while the goal is for players to get around 1.5 times their body weight.

In the summer leading up to his sophomore year of high school, Burress was already up to 345 pounds — almost two times his body weight. In Grimes’ most recent in-house metric, Burress reached 375 pounds before starting his season at Georgia Tech.

Burress has also excelled in chin-ups. Instead of performing a traditional chin-up, Grimes has Burress put weight around his waist. For smaller players, like Burress, it’s difficult to achieve a high number because their body weight is lower than taller players.

The exercise’s goal is to create strong overhead mobility and strength that translates smoothly to the field. In his senior year of high school, Burress added nearly 100 pounds (to total 292 pounds when factoring his body weight) around his waist before successfully performing a chin-up. Grimes said that was the heaviest body weight plus external load chin-up he had ever seen.

Because Burress isn’t a physically gifted 6-foot-3 person like many of his teammates and competitors, he had to go above and beyond to position his body to get to the place where it is today. Despite the challenge, he was obsessed with the grind.

“He was already treating his body like a business on his official visit (to Georgia Tech),” Ramsey said. “He was gonna go to the football game, but he wanted to work out, he wanted to hit. He wanted to do things that he couldn’t do. I’m like, ‘Hey man you can’t do these things until you get your physical and get cleared.’”

As a junior in high school, Burress underwent a food antigen test in hopes of improving his nutrition. What came from the blood work results was something nobody expected: Burress was nearly diabetic and allergic to carbohydrates, Andy said.

Burress previously believed his body needed as many carbs as possible but his sugar levels were unexpectedly high as a result. From that point, his diet changed and more impressive work on the field and in the weight room followed.

“I think that was one of the things that really helped him kind of get to that next level,” Andy said of Burress’ new diet.

Following his nutritional improvements, Burress improved his body weight to 182 pounds, giving him a height-weight coefficient (height in inches times the coefficient equals the player’s weight in pounds) of nearly 2.7 — the mark Grimes says most of the best professional baseball players are around.

Factoring everything together, Burress’ tools blossomed. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.47 seconds. In the summer leading up to his senior year of high school, Burress’ max exit velocity at the plate reached over 100 miles per hour for the first time. At the PBR Super 60 event in Feb. 2023, Burress’ 99 mph throwing velocity from the outfield tied the event’s record. While having top-notch tools doesn’t always translate to performance, that hasn’t been the case for Burress.

Most incoming freshmen aren’t physically ready when they arrive on campus. A player like Burress, who is smaller than almost every D-I player and younger by up to six years, couldn’t afford that. The work Burress put in off the field leading up to his GT career elevated him above practically anyone in his way.

Grimes says he’s never seen another player at Burress’ caliber in terms of work ethic and progression. Meanwhile, Burress admits he wouldn’t be where he is today without the work he’s put into improving his strength and body. Despite his smaller stature, it’s allowed Burress to be among the best of the best.

“All I can do is just go out there and continue to show that I’m better than the guys who are 6-foot-5, I’m better than the guys who are 25 years old,” Burress said. “It doesn’t matter what their stature is versus mine is, I’m gonna put up better numbers, play the game harder and I’m gonna be a better player than them now and at the end of the day.”

(Photographs by Kyndall Williams