A Legend’s Last Close – A Career

By
Updated: August 21, 2017

All The News Fit For The Front Range

by Francis Ferry, NLN baseball beat writer

A PEBA Great calls it quits with 383 Saves

November 25, 2025: Aurora, Colorado – By all accounts, the opening of the PEBA Hall of Fame is not too far down the road, and there have been many a great player who has graced the League over it’s 19 seasons: ‘Fireworks’, Rob Raines, and Tsumemasa Morimoto, to name a few. The Borealis have had their share of star names over the years, too – Cory Pierce, ‘Old’ McDonald, Kojima, ‘Sawmill’, José Rivera and Provost – you decide who would deserve recognition to such a Hall, but one name stands out above the rest of Aurora’s potential candidates.

Bryant Burris

Today marked the end of many eras as Burris announced his retirement from baseball after 15-major league seasons that encompassed 1041 games (2nd all-time for a pitcher, for now, to Jorge Aguilar) and 383 saves – second all-time, just coming short of Raúl Pinto’s 388.

Burris was Rodriguez, Sr’s last Auroran Legacy

Amongst the various milestones for Bryant is this amazing note: the death of former owner and PEBA Commissioner John Rodriguez, Sr and the sale of the Borealis to the Topham Clan and Golden Entertainment happened shortly before the 2011 season – which marked Burris’ major league debut. He is the last remnant of the Rodriguez Era – it took 15 years for the organization to fully ‘shed’ the impact of one of the Leagues great leaders, owners and Founding Father. Not a single player in the Organization today has the ‘Rodriguez Touch’.

Without doing an in-depth survey, I’d be willing to be that’s a tough mark to top – 17 years in one organization. What kept Burris in Aurora was his sheer ability and consistency.

The ‘Vulture’ and his 190 Saves was Burris’ predecessor

After an outstanding career at Stanford University, Burris was the 15th overall selection in the 2009 draft – a draft notable for #1 pick ‘Slappy’ Bradley, and #2 ‘Yogi’ Robles. After a successful start to his pro career at Mokule’ia (1.47 ERA, 10 saves), he blazed through the minors in 2010 – 1.20, 4 saves at A Ball SLRC; 0.53, 8 saves at AA Gatineau; and a 0.00 ERA and 5 saves at AAA Thornton – with a total of 49 games pitched that year. By the time May of 2011 rolled around, Burris had yet to give up an earned run at AAA, saved another 4 games, and received a call-up to the Big Leagues – where he initially pitched in the shadow of Aurora’s first Big-Time Closer – The Vulture’ (who had 190 career saves for Aurora).

Burris was outstanding in those first four seasons with a 2.53 ERA and 33 saves – numbers that were good enough to allow Aurora to say good-bye to Suárez and install Burris as the closer in 2015, and part of what made him so dominant, and have the length of career he had, was his strength. Over the first 13-years of his stay on The Front Range he averaged 72 appearances a year – a fair bet no other pitcher has seen such use for so long a period of time. And for his first two seasons as closer, he excelled – 43 and 45 saves, but at some point in 2017 he seemed to lose the touch – and his job to Jonathan Dyke, who would go on to save 27 games that year. In 2018, The ‘Stork’ would hold fort at the closer spot for a time, but eventually Burris earned the job back, finishing the season with 23 saves.

If there were a reason why Burris fell short in his pursuit of the save record, he can look no further than his career ‘blip’ in 2017 and 2018.

‘Javelin’ replaced Burris in 2024 – but will he have Bryant’s longevity on The Front Range?

But after that 2017 season Burris had only two seasons where his ERA saw north of 3.00 – in 2023, and it was just 3.07, and 2021, where it was 4.10 – a career worse, despite 39 saves; the year he gave up a career high of 9 HRs. By the time 2023 came along, Burris began to show some signs of slowing down as inconsistency crept into his performance, and Aurora sought a new closer – signing the ‘Javelin’ to a big free agent deal. Despite the loose in confidence by his manager and GM, in his final season with the Borealis, Bryant posted a 2.04 ERA.

With a record like that, and a team option for 2026, Aurora was frank and honest with their longest-tenured organizational member – ‘we aren’t bringing you back’. With the season he had, it was thought someone would give him a shot in 2026, but instead, Burris decided to hang up his cleats and retire as a life-long Borealis – something no one else can say. Not Bradly, Not Pierce, not ‘Ice Cold’. Maybe one day we will speak of Provost in these terms.

One can only hope…

Burris’ accomplishments are many. He played in 6 PEC’s, bringing home four Rodriguez Cups – getting the final out in the 2021 Grudge Match Series against Florida. His post-season numbers include a 3.82 ERA and 28 saves – including 8 saves in said 2021 championship run. Three times he lead the league in saves, including 2019 with a career best 54, and he was a three-time All-Star. He was the 2015 and 2019 SL Shutdown Reliever of the Year.

When he was asked at the press conference announcing his retirement, ‘What are you going to do now’, he replied, “I’m tired of the winters here in Colorado – I’m heading back to San Diego to spend the rest of my days at the beach!”

Spoken like a true Californian.

One thing we can be sure of here on the Frozen Front Range – the fans of the Aurora Borealis will miss the sight of Bryant Burris warming up in the Aurora bullpen.