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Zach Britton is #2


Tony-OH

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http://www.orioleshangout.com/article.asp?ID=2845

Really he's 1a. Tremendous prospect. In case anyone was wondering, his sinking fastball is a more dominant pitch than anything Matusz throws. Matusz still has more pitches and better command overall, but these two are going to anchor the O's rotation for years to come as long as they stay healthy.

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Tony, according to Stotle, BA had this to say:

For Britton at AA, heavy fastball (sinker) among best in minors. 90-94. Evaluators split on whether slider or change-up is better secondary. CH has some drop, slider will flash a little depth. Ability to turn those into legit ML pitches will determine if he can reach his ceiling (maybe a #2). Needs to improve control and handling the running game. Doesn't have firmest handle on commanding his fastball -- pitch gets away from him and dives well out of zone.

For Britton at AAA, basically the same write-up, though this staffer separates the FB/SI and says SL is best secondary. Also mentions Britton loses his release point in his delivery, causing both control and command to suffer.

Do you agree with the negatives mentioned by BA? I do worry that some of the sinkers that induce ground balls or misses from minor league batters will be taken for balls by major league hitters.

I am very high on what Britton can become, but I think he may still need a half-season at AAA before he's ready. Britton wasn't lasting 6 innings very often at the AAA level, and he needs to get to the point where that is expected (as Arrieta was able to do last year).

I'm glad to hear he's a good fielder; when you induce a lot of grounders, you'd better be ready to field. It seems like BA and your sources have differing opinions on whether he holds runners well. Your report says yes, BA says no.

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Tony, according to Stotle, BA had this to say:

Do you agree with the negatives mentioned by BA? I do worry that some of the sinkers that induce ground balls or misses from minor league batters will be taken for balls by major league hitters.

I am very high on what Britton can become, but I think he may still need a half-season at AAA before he's ready. Britton wasn't lasting 6 innings very often at the AAA level, and he needs to get to the point where that is expected (as Arrieta was able to do last year).

I'm glad to hear he's a good fielder; when you induce a lot of grounders, you'd better be ready to field. It seems like BA and your sources have differing opinions on whether he holds runners well. Your report says yes, BA says no.

There are times that he does lose command a bit, but that has improved each year. Very few pitchers have a firm command of all of their pitches every time out so I think those reports are just highlighting what someone has seen. I've seen Britton with less than stellar command, but what I liked was the fact he could come right in with that sinking fastball and get a groundball.

For me, the hard sinking fastball is the best pitch a pitcher can have because it's a pitch that you can basically throw down the middle in a jam and could get enough movement that it turns into a good pitch.

I didn't have the numbers this year thanks to minorleaguesplits.com going under (a killer for a lot of statistical analysis BTW), but last year he was very successful in holding runners. In the starts I saw this season it didn't appear to be a problem and no one mentioned it to me that it was a problem for him. That doesn't mean that some scout didn't think it was a problem or that he had a bad game, but I would not say they are major weaknesses for him.

As for the six inning stints at AAA, I think the Orioles were being careful with him. They wanted him around 150 innings this year and he ended at 153.1. I've seen Britton throwing 93 MPH sinkers in the 6th and 7th inning so it's not a stamina issue.

The command for his secondaries are the key for me on whether he can reach his ceiling or settle in as a nice middle of the rotation guy. If he can start getting his slider and changeup over for strikes consistently, he's going to be a solid #2 guy or even possibly a #1 some day. As it stands now, his ceiling is very close if not equal to Matusz in my opinion.

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Thanks for the thorough response, Tony. I'm very excited to have Britton on his way to Baltimore sometime this year. It has taken a while for the "grow the arms" philosophy to bear fruit, but in 2011 we could have pretty close to a full house.

Now go buy the bats....

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Can't wait to see Britton in the show next year!

Not only is his profile enough to make one drool over potential, but I really like the fact that he contrasts with the current cavalry arms. His style, handedness are quite different and that variation may help play up the whole rotation.

Wonder if Britton eventually would be an ideal guy to add a cutter to his arsenal. Worked great for Cliff Lee to contrast with his tailing fastball and change-up. With an inconsistent slider, could Britton be a guy who would benefit with a more hybrid offering in the form of a cutter? Good news is that it doesn't sound like he needs another pitch, just thinking out loud about adding to his pitch repetroire might make a #1/#2 ceiling more of a probability.

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Tony, according to Stotle, BA had this to say:

Do you agree with the negatives mentioned by BA? I do worry that some of the sinkers that induce ground balls or misses from minor league batters will be taken for balls by major league hitters.

I am very high on what Britton can become, but I think he may still need a half-season at AAA before he's ready. Britton wasn't lasting 6 innings very often at the AAA level, and he needs to get to the point where that is expected (as Arrieta was able to do last year).

I'm glad to hear he's a good fielder; when you induce a lot of grounders, you'd better be ready to field. It seems like BA and your sources have differing opinions on whether he holds runners well. Your report says yes, BA says no.

I'm no Tony but I thought I'd muse on this...

His FB/SL combo could play in the majors right now. His command/control needs some work and I imagine it will for the next few years. He'll be a guy who gets better in the majors as he grows and understands how to balance himself and get ML hitters out. His changeup also needs a little work, and that's the easiest and most necessary fix he needs to make at AAA.

My hope is that our starting 5 stay healthy through the first half of the season so as not to have to bring Britton up until he's forced it, but I also have confidence that he could pitch at the ML level now without embarrassing himself and still make adjustments along the way. I would really like him to bring a legit 3-pitch offering to the table if his command is still shaky, though.

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I've never seen Britton pitch, but how does a left-handed Kevin Brown do as a comp?

I would like to see that sinker before I compared Britton to one of my favorite pitchers of the last 20 years. Brown threw his really hard, with a ton of sink, and it seemed to come in like a lump of concrete. He also had good control, and seemed to have a lot of mental tenacity.

I'm sure that Kevin Brown is what the O's are hoping for, though.

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