Will Britton be an Aggie?

He had a chance to go in the second round, but because of signability issues, he slipped to the 23rd round. Now, he's got the biggest decision of his life looming. Take the money or enroll at Texas A&M this fall. David Sandhop chats with the blue-chip pitcher about the decision.

Tomball High School, a northwest suburb of Houston, has produced many quality baseball prospects in recent years. From Troy Patton, the Astros' top pitching prospect in their minor league farm system, to the collegiate homerun hitting leader Kyle Russell of the Texas Longhorns and pitchers Blake Rampy and Doug Frame who played at Texas A&M, the pipeline of talent to college and pro baseball is impressive.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that one of Texas A&M's top pitching signees in the Class of 2007, Drake Britton, hails from Tomball. It also comes as no surprise that the 6-foot-2, 215-pound power lefty was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 23rd round.

But don't let that 23rd round selection fool you, Britton has early round talent and potential. His draft position slipped after concerns about his signability when he turned down a second round offer from Washington.

"Before the draft, I set an amount (signing bonus) that I would accept to go pro and I made a decision not to move from that dollar figure when teams called," Britton said. "The Washington Nationals called me right before their second round pick and said they would draft me if I agreed to a certain signing bonus. It didn't meet my number, so I passed."

A&M coach Rob Childress and the Texas A&M baseball fans will gladly welcome a left-hander with second round talent to College Station and Olsen Field.

Britton has four pitches including a 92-94 mph fastball, slider, curveball, and a change-up, but he credits his attitude and mental approach toward getting batters out as a key factor in his success.

"I like to control the situation and attack the hitters," Britton said. "I want to be the first to strike and get ahead in the count. I know what I can do, so I use that to take control."

The Tomball native credits his high school coach for his development as a player and for instilling the motivation and work ethic to be successful.

"Coach Lynch really develops talent here. You can see it with so many of his players in college and the pros," Britton said. "He's very detail-oriented and he's a perfectionist. He videotapes every player and breaks down our form and everything, and compares our videos with similar players in the pros. It really hits home with the players what he's trying to do, which is use proper technique and form."

Britton sees a lot of the same coaching qualities in Coach Childress, which was a major reason why the Southpaw chose the Aggies over virtually every major college baseball program in the Big 12 and the state.

"I connected one-on-one with Coach Childress. His work ethic is the same as Coach Lynch's," Britton said. "I also heard from a lot of baseball people that he is a great coach. That really clinched it for me."

With the August 15 deadline for prospects to either sign a pro contract or attend college only 2-plus weeks away, is there any chance the Red Sox could come with a last minute offer to sway the young left-hander?

"It would have to be something crazy for that to happen," Britton said. "I'm pretty much dead-set on going to A&M. I believe in myself and I'm confident I can be successful at Texas A&M and get drafted much higher after college. Boston told me they will come with a final offer at the end of July, but it probably won't matter."

Britton says he's very confident in his fastball and slider, but is looking forward to working with Coach Childress to improve his consistency with his curveball and change-up. If he can throw all for pitches for strikes, Britton should be a dominant force in collegiate baseball. That's not good news for Big 12 hitters.




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