Results tagged ‘ young lefhanded starters ’
How good will he be? Will he be a successful major league starting pitcher? A star?
Zach Britton shot through the full-season minor leagues in three seasons, obtaining good results at each level. He keeps the ball low — in those three seasons, he allowed roughly 0.5 home runs per nine innings — and made the Orioles out of spring training when other pitchers were hurt. Britton pitched well in the first half of the season, getting some mention as a fringe Rookie of the Year candidate, but tapered off at the end, winding up with an 11-11 won-lost record (pretty good for the Orioles) but a 4.60 ERA (good among the Orioles starting pitchers, but still not really good.) He was sent to Bowie and Norfolk around the All-Star break to keep him on a regular schedule.
I wrote after the 2010 season that I had three concerns about Britton. After his 2011 season, I have two more — his major league strikeout rate was much worse than expected (5.7 K/9 IP) and his walk rate has been higher throughout his career than you’d like (around 3 BB / 9 IP). If he’s able to return to close to his minor league strikeout rate — say, 7.5 K / 9 IP — then he doesn’t have to improve his walk rate significantly to be effective.
Among Baseball-Reference.com’s ten most-similar pitchers to Britton at age 23 are four reasonably current players — Jon Lester, Aaron Laffey, Luke Prokopec, and Jonathon Niese. Lester, of course, has become a successful pitcher — but his ERA, while in absolute terms was very similar to Britton’s, was in relative terms much worse. In terms of strikeout and walk ratios, the most similar was Prokopec, who pitched terribly at age 24 and got hurt, never pitching in the big leagues again. So while Britton still could develop into a solid starting pitcher, the odds aren’t with him and he’s definitely not on the train to stardom.