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The Underappreciated Frederick Ace

The Fremulon Insurance Prospect of the Week

BrittonI’m a little late to the Zach Britton party. Something about the Keys’ young lefty just hasn’t made me give him more than a passing consideration. This seems especially stupid of me now that I’m having a good look at him – nearly 3 ground ball to fly ball ratio, more than twice as many strikeouts as walks, less than a hit per inning. And none of these things are flukes – Britton did all of them last year at Delmarva, too. This week, he really earned his dues, pitching 7 innings with no walks, three hits, and 7 Ks against the first-place Salem Red Sox. The scouting report on Britton is rather pedestrian (good sinker, but average at best off-speed stuff in addition to command issues that will probably put him into the bullpen long-term), but to see a young guy enjoying such success – and getting better at each progressive level – is worth something.

Norfolk Tides: 55-46 (3rd IL South)

  • A bunch of big-name prospects have gotten off to disappointingly rough starts after promotions to Norfolk, including Jake Arrieta and Brandon Snyder. However, Troy Patton seems to be shaking off the rust or whatever and starting to find his groove again. This week the recovering lefty faced two of the top teams in the IL (Gwinnett and Durham) on the road, going 9.2 innings with 10 strikeouts and just 1 walk. The innings aren’t where I want them to be (Patton has averaged just over 5 innings per start with Norfolk) and the hits keep falling in – he gave up 12 in his two starts this week, and 8 runs – but getting the Ks and BBs back in order is half the battle.

Bowie Baysox: 55-46 (4th EL South)

  • Because it worked out incredibly well with Chris Tillman, I’m going to call out Brian Matusz this week. Matusz has not pitched particularly well since before the Futures Game, striking out just 7 batters in his last 13 innings (including his inning in St. Louis). It’s nothing to be alarmed by, but how/if/when Matusz bounces back will be pretty telling of his overall development. A strong final month of the season could put him in place for an Opening Day Baltimore roster position, but continued scuffling could put him back in Bowie (worst case scenario) to start 2009.

Frederick Keys: 14-15 (3rd CAR North)

As hinted before, we’re going to play Player A/Player B with a couple of high-A level outfielders. First person to guess them both correctly gets a secret prize!

  • Player A: 25 years old, first year at this level, .246/.345/.357 with 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs. Twice as many strikeouts as walks in 244 at bats.
  • Player B: 23 years old, first year at this level, .286/..368/.338 with 12 doubles, 3 triples, and no homers. Roughly the same amount of walks as strikeouts in 343 at bats.

Delmarva Shorebirds: 16-13 (4th SAL North)

  • There has been a ton of angst expressed about Billy Rowell, the bust pick from 2006’s draft (which, by the way, makes Zach Britton the best prospect from that year) and rightly so. But these things happen, and fortunately for the Orioles, another corner outfielder has emerged that can probably take a lot of the sting out of Rowell’s non-performance in Ronnie Welty. To wit: Welty is 8 months older than Rowell, and a level behind him, but has advantages in almost every offensive category (they are tied in home runs and Rowell has more doubles than Welty). I would very much like to see what Welty can do at Frederick, but at just 21 years old there is really no rush for the very talented outfielder.

Lower Levels

  • Spelling challenged pitcher Chorye Spoone is back! Spoone, who led the Frederick Keys to the Carolina League championship in 2007, is recovering from the popular torn labrum injury with the GCL Orioles. It’ll be a small miracle if Spoone can come back and regain his prospect status, but of course we’re wishing him nothing but luck. Still no sign of Tony Butler, though.
  • Our favorite prospect here at Break Up the Baysox is definitely Vito Frabizio, and he continues to impress down at Bluefield, pitching 12 innings in two starts with just 1 walk and 9 strikeouts this week. Go get’em, Vito!

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