Chris Britton started the year as the organization's highest touted relief prospect. He was just coming off of a season for the ages in Frederick and scouts couldn't stop raving about his curveball. Moved up to AA Bowie to start the season, Britton struck out six batters in just over two innings before being summoned to help a thin Orioles bullpen.
Britton was not an instant success in April, but he found things going a little easier in May. As the season wore on, Britton's results began to match his stuff and it looked like he had earned a permanent role in the bullpen.
Here are his monthly splits:
There is no question that Britton has struggled lately. But we are still talking about less than six innings in August. And as enticing as it might be to get James Hoey and his electric stuff in the bullpen; that could have easily been done in a week when the rosters expand. Besides, few people would argue that Britton is the odd man out based on merit. Not with Russ Ortiz still hanging around. Instead, this move was clearly about getting Britton some work in Bowie before he rejoins the club in September.
"They told me I need to come down here and get my sharpness back", Britton explained to ITW. "I've been kind of flat lately and I need to get back in the groove of things."
When pressed about why there was a need for him to do so in the minors, Britton clarified "Me and Scotty [McGregor] have a great relationship here. I feel comfortable with him and he knows my tendencies, so it might be easier to come back and do it here." That's not to say that Britton doesn't have a pretty good pitching coach waiting for him back in Baltimore. "[Leo Mazzone] knows what he is doing and he's always there to help you," agreed Britton.
At just 23 years old, Chris Britton is showing uncommon maturity about his sudden demotion. With that attitude, his curveball isn't going to be the only thing that makes him worth rooting for in the years to come.