The folks over at Baseball Prospectus might not be big fans of Orioles catcher Matt Wieters -- or "Murder Mittens" as I will now call him after plugging his name into this 19th-century Baltimore Orioles nickname generator -- but they are quite fond of Orioles lefty pitching prospect Zach Britton.
Britton was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk yesterday after allowing just three runs in 20 innings this spring, which gave him a 1.35 ERA in Grapefruit League play. He is expected to arrive in the major leagues sometime this season.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus wrote that though Britton could struggle as he "learns how to pitch in the big leagues without a pure-power arsenal," the Orioles' top pitching prospect "has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter, but he also has some shot at exceeding that." One scout compared Britton to former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb.
"Britton was among the Orioles best pitchers this spring, but by waiting until April 20 to bring him up Baltimore gets one more year of salary control," Goldstein wrote. "In the last 18 months, Britton has gone from the guy just below young pitchers like Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman, to a prospect that is arguably as good as any of them."
In the post, Goldstein argued that "once you combine velocity, movement and location," Britton has the best fastball of a talented group of AL East youngsters that includes Kyle Drabek, Jeremy Hellickson and Ivan Nova. Those other three guys will start the season in the majors. Britton could join them as early as next month.