SoxProspects News

October 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Drake Britton


This week, we enter the top 10 as we continue counting down SoxProspects.com's end-of-season top 40 prospects. We will be covering one player a day for the next two weeks, offering a more detailed analysis on the system's top prospects. 

2012 Team: Salem Red Sox/Portland Sea Dogs
2012 Stats: 4-7, 84 2/3 IP, 3.72 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 38 BB, 76 K in Portland. 3-5, 45 IP, 5.80 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 19 BB, 42 K in Salem

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Pre-2012: Britton was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2007 draft out of Tomball (TX) Senior High School. Signed to an over-slot bonus, mostly due to his commitment to Texas A&M, expectations were high for Britton as he entered the system, and he showed some of his potential in 2008 as a 19-year-old holding his own in the New York-Penn League. After appearing in just eight games for the Spinners, Britton was shut down with an elbow injury, and he ultimately had Tommy John surgery in October  2008. Britton returned in August 2009, throwing one-to-two inning stints with the GCL Red Sox and Spinners. He had fantastic results in the small sample, striking out 19 in 11 2/3 innings, while allowing only one run. 

Britton put himself squarely back on the map in 2010, throwing 75 2/3 terrific innings in Greenville. He allowed less than a hit per inning, while striking out over a batter per inning on his way to a 2.97 ERA. At the end of the season, SoxProspects.com ranked Britton as 10th best prospect in the system, with perhaps the most helium of any player in the top 10.

The 2011 season was not as kind to him, and Britton dropped to 16th in the end-of-year rankings after a nightmarish season in Salem. Britton went 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA, and walked 55 batters in 97 2/3 innings, though he did strike out 89 batters. He still showed the arsenal that made him a top-10 prospect, but his command and control took huge steps backwards. He also tended to lose his composure on the mound, causing bad outings to snowball into disasters. Britton entered 2012 with serious questions about his future. 

2012 Season in Review: Britton returned to Salem in 2012, and it appeared like it was going to be another lost season for him out of the gate. His 10.71 ERA in Salem in April was a team-high, as he walked 12 while striking out 13 in 19 1/3 innings. But something clicked for Britton in May, and he was a completely different pitcher. He tossed 25 1/3 innings, allowing 21 hits, but walking seven and striking out 29. Having added Britton to the 40-man roster in November 2011, the Red Sox decided to be aggressive and promote him to Double-A Portland on June 1. He made quite an impression in his first start for the Sea Dogs, tossing five no-hit innings as he picked up the victory. The rest of the season was up-and-down, with some dominant starts sandwiched between some clunkers. One of his better starts came at the end of the season, when he tossed a season-high seven innings while allowing only two runs, with Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington in attendance. 

2013 Outlook: Britton will likely open 2013 back with the Sea Dogs, but he will be a candidate for an early promotion if he starts out strong. He has only two options remaining, so time is becoming a factor in his development. As Britton gets closer to the majors, the chances also increase that he could be moved to the bullpen; his arsenal would play up in the shorter outings and the trouble he has repeating his delivery and keeping a consistent release point would be mitigated in the bullpen as well. Improvements in his command and overall consistency will go a long way towards proving that he can be a starter in the major leagues, and that will be a key area to focus on in 2013 for the 23-year-old. If all goes well, Britton could make his major league debut at some point during the year. 

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Photo Credit: Drake Britton by Kelly O'Connor

 
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