When talking to Britton at the beginning of the season, he was just an awestruck 19-year old pitcher. All of that seems like ancient history compared to the improvements he has made on the mound. To only look at the improvement in Britton's stats is not fair; as there have been noticeable changes in his confidence and aggressiveness towards opponents, not mention his control of all three of his pitches and the movement on his breaking pitches. The first time Britton sat down with Inside The Warehouse, all he had was his good fastball, an average change, and some trouble controlling his breaking pitches.
"I walked a lot when I was losing, but I got that down," reflected Britton on his early off-speed control issues. "[Now the breaking ball] is a curveball. I was throwing a slider a little bit earlier because I could throw a slider for strikes, but it wasn't anything that great. But, the organization feels that the curveball is a better pitch for me."
With Britton's early struggles in the short season behind him, Zach likes to look at the pitcher he has become at this point in his career and discussed why he was able to work deeper into games and have more success on the hill.
"Really, I've gotten a lot of groundballs and stuff like that helps. They're not hitting it in the air and not getting a chance for extra base hits," Britton explained. "I'm keeping it simple."
The stats also tell the same story. Through 53.2 innings pitched this season, Britton has given up just one home run and has a GO:AO ratio of 2.32:1. Another important improvement to look at is that Britton has been keeping right-handed batters at bay for most of the season.
"Zach Britton was working on his change-up at the beginning of the season and was getting better and he's got the point," Ironbirds pitching coach Calvin Maduro explained about Britton's success against left-handed and right-handed batters.
Maduro, who always talks highly of Britton, has always been there for the young pitcher.
"I probably just hound [Maduro] with questions everyday. And that's just me, because I want to learn and observe everything he says," Britton shared. "I like working with Calvin. He's that guy I can go to and talk to him a lot. I can talk to him about everything. He jokes around with us, it's not always ‘I'm your pitching coach, I can't joke around with you guys!'"
The great relationship with Maduro has helped Zach Britton to improve remarkably fast, and even Britton seems to be a little taken aback by his abilities.
"I worked on my changeup a lot this off-season, and it's gotten to be a pretty good pitch. I'm striking guys out and that's my strikeout pitch right now," Britton told Inside The Warehouse. "That's really impressed me because I've only had a fastball before."
Now, with the season almost over, Britton sounds like many of the scouts that flock to see one of his starts.
"I feel like I'm just lacking that pitch, that last pitch that will help me advance up faster through the system, and that's the breaking ball. I think, if I just throw that curveball in there, that's going to be that pitch," Britton assessed. "As of now, [I get] a lot of groundballs. I don't have a lot of strikeouts. I think the strikeouts will come as I get older and learn how to pitch and learn how to use my off-speed stuff. I think it's going to be a balance."
The one consensus on the future of Britton, however, seems to be time.
"You will see a lot of him. He's got good stuff, he's young, he's 19, he's got a lot to learn, but a good arm," Maduro said after Britton's first start in Aberdeen, back in June.
Joe Jordan, the Orioles' Director of Scouting, also added that "the only thing Zach Britton needs, right now, is time.
"I need time to work on that third pitch, and I think with [the Instructional League play], hopefully, I'll have it down to where next year I'll have three solid pitches," stressed Britton.
As much as he's grown up over this year, however, Britton is still excited every time he takes the ball.
"I enjoyed every minute of it here [in Aberdeen], all the fans have been great here, and just playing on this field."
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