Zach Britton, starting pitcher
How good will he be?
I am optimistic about Britton’s short/medium term future, less so about his long-term future. Britton has been promoted as an outstanding pitching prospect — mlb.com recently named him the third-best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball — and it’s easy to see why. He’s a sinker-type pitcher with an above-average fastball, and a very good fastball for pitchers of that type. He’s pitched very well everywhere he’s been, and it looks like he’s handled each new level without hiccup.
On the other hand, I have three concerns. First, he’s pitched a lot every year he’s been in full-season ball. I’m not sure that it’s a career-killer, but he pitched 147 innings as a 20-year-old, 140 innings as a 21-year-old, and 153 innings as a 22-year-old. Second, he does give up more hits than you’d like to see. It’s not a lot more — right around 8 hits per 9 innings — but it is a little bit more. Finally, his stuff isn’t overpowering. It’s good, but not great.
Yeah, that’s Tom Glavine’s profile. But it’s also Steve Avery’s. On the whole, the three concerns don’t mean Britton’s not an outstanding prospect. Given the right opportunity, patience, health, and luck, Britton will have some good years in the major leagues. But I think it’s a 50-50 shot that he’ll be done by age 30.