SoxProspects News

October 25, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Drake Britton and Brandon Workman


SoxProspects.com is counting down its season-end top 40 prospects, recapping their seasons and previewing what's ahead in 2014. You can find all of the entries in this year's series here.

#12 Drake Britton, LHP
2013 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 102 2/3 IP, 7-7, 3.77 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 85 SO, 37 BB (minors)
21 IP, 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 17 SO, 7 BB (majors)

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Season in Review: Britton’s season got off to a rough start both on and off the field after he was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence during spring training, and then struggled in his first month and a half in Portland. Over his first 48 innings, Britton had a 4.69 ERA and was allowing over a hit per inning, although he still had 44 strikeouts, showing that his stuff was still there. Britton began to turn things around near the end of May, throwing the ball as well as he has in his entire career. Over his final eight starts in Portland, he posted a 2.32 ERA, with eight of the 13 earned runs he allowed in 50 1/3 innings coming in one game. He went at least seven innings four times during that stretch and not allowing a run four times. He was promoted to Pawtucket on July 9, and appeared in only one game for the PawSox before he got the call to Boston on July 14. The Red Sox made Britton a reliever for the first time in his life, and he responded by not allowing a run over his first nine innings over seven appearances, used mostly in low-leverage situations. His success dwindled later in the season, as he gave up nine runs in his final 12 innings and struggled with his control, but Britton proved that he can get major league hitters out. 

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Britton’s ascension to the major leagues may have looked unlikely as recently as last spring, when the left-hander struggled to keep his composure and pitch around bad results. His raw stuff, however, was never in doubt. Britton features an above-average fastball that sits in the low 90s, a developing low-80s changeup, and alternates between a slider and curveball as his breaking pitch. Britton’s arsenal at this point is best suited for the bullpen role he took on this year, though whether he begins next year in the major league bullpen or getting the chance to get used to that role in Pawtucket that he did not get this year will largely depend on the left-handed reliever depth in Boston. – Jon Meoli 

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#11 Brandon Workman, RHP
2013 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs/Pawtucket Red Sox/Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 101 IP, 8-2, 3.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 108 SO, 30 BB (minors)
41 2/3 IP, 6-3, 4.97 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 47 SO, 15 BB (majors)


Season in Review: The best part about Workman’s season is that it still is not over. After pitching his way out of Portland in only 11 starts, going 5-1 with a 3.41 ERA and allowing just 51 hits and 17 walks in 66 innings with 74 strikeouts, Workman continued to have tremendous success in Pawtucket. In six starts, he tossed 36 innings with a 2.75 ERA, walking 13 and striking out 34. With the Boston bullpen beleaguered by injuries, the Red Sox decided it was time to see if Workman could contribute at that level on July 9. Workman appeared in one game out of the bullpen, and was then thrust in to a spot start against Oakland in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He made two more successful starts for Boston, but once the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy, Workman transitioned back to the bullpen. He has shown a strong ability to miss bats as a reliever, striking out 12.4 batters per nine innings in his short stints. Red Sox manager John Farrell has used Workman in high-leverage situations throughout the postseason, showing that the young right-hander has already earned the trust of the major league squad. 

First-Hand Report and 2014 Outlook: Though Workman didn’t get the national recognition as his rotation-mates to start the season in Portland, he took a major step forward and significantly elevated his stock. Workman has a solid pitcher’s frame, listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. In the past, Workman had effort in his delivery, which led many to peg him for a bullpen role long-term. This year, he raised his arm slot somewhere to closer to over the top, which helped him two-fold, as it allowed him to better repeat his delivery and hold velocity later into the game. Workman’s fastball sits in the 91-94 mph range, but has touched higher on occasion. He does a good job finishing the pitch and his command has improved as he has progressed through the system. His best pitch is his cutter, which presently grades as a plus offering. He generally throws it in the high-80s with late glove-side break. Workman also mixes in a changeup and a curveball, but both are behind his fastball and cutter. His curveball can flash average-to-slightly better potential when he stays on top of the ball, showing depth and two-plane break. Workman’s mid-80s changeup is more of a show-me pitch at present, but on occasion shows fade. Workman established himself as a bridge reliever late in the year, capable of going multiple innings if necessary. The versatility he brings to the bullpen in this role is extremely valuable, but going into next year, he could be given a shot to start. Assuming full health, at the end of spring the Red Sox will have to make a decision on whether Workman will be better served continuing to start, likely in Pawtucket, or breaking camp with the Red Sox out of the bullpen. It’s hard to peg which of these two options is more likely right now, and as with Britton, a lot will depend on what happens this offseason. – Ian Cundall

Photo Credit: Drake Britton and Brandon Workman by Kelly O'Connor

 
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