Taking a short break from the major league edition of 2009 Orioles Retrospective (THE FIGHTIN’ struggle to keep coming up with these lines – seriously, Colbert is a smart dude), I turn my eye towards the minors where 21 year-old lefty Zach Britton has moved up prospect lists with a strong year.
Britton had a good year in Single-A Delmarva last year, and has pretty much replicated that effort after being promoted to Frederick (A+). His 2.70 ERA is a little shinier than the 3.26FIP, but he really upped his strike-out rate (8.42 K/9) – though his control took a slight hit (3.54 BB/9) – while continuing to get a ton of groundballs (67%). Add in that he’s a 6’2″ left-hander with still some room to fill out, and you’ve got yourself quite a pitching prospect.
As Britton climbs the organizational ladder, it would be fair to think he might strike out fewer batter and walk a few more. If he keeps inducing groundballs at such prolific rates though – no starter in the majors with even 20 IP was above 65% this year, or last year, or the year before that one (at which point I got tired of checking) – he should be able to find some success. I’m not on expert on these matters, but Zach Britton might be the Orioles #1 prospect in the not too distant future*.
* I don’t remember who it was, but I read in a chat with Keith Law or Kevin Goldstein or one of those guys that Britton is definitely going to be a top 100 prospect in baseball the next time those lists come out. Exciting.