Zach Britton | LHP-SP | Baltimore Orioles | DOB: 12-22-87 | 6’2” | 180 lbs | B/T: L/T | 3rd rd. 2006 from H.S. | BAL #3 ranked prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page

Equipped with a sinking fastball that sits between 88 to 92 mph and a four-seam fastball that tops out at 95 mph, Britton is Dave Duncan’s Krispy Kreme doughnut. He, Britton not Duncan, throws a slider to left-handed batters and an ever-improving changeup thanks to former teammate Brain Matusz. Yes, that Matusz with a league average changeup this year, according to FanGraphs. Either way, Britton has improved his changeup since being drafted out of high school with Keith Law’s silver tongue saying, “His changeup improved over the course of the season to the point that it’s an average pitch or better.” Law ranked him his number 25 overall prospects. He has also garnered praise for reducing his walks and developing better command of his pitches. Nevertheless, all scouts are repeating what Law has said, “His control remains below-average and his command of all pitches and feel for the slider need to improve… [Could] slot in very nicely as a No. 2 starter behind Brian Matusz.” How’s this season and career fair? Thought you’d never ask.

2010 stats from Double-A (EL)
2010 Stats: 6.8 K/9 | 3 BB/9 | 73 IP | 2.84 ERA | 3.61 FIP | 1.29 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 8.6 H/9 | .293 BABIP | 64.8 GB% | 13.6 LD% | 19.9 FB%

Career Stats: 7.2 K/9 | 3.3 BB/9 | 458 IP | 3.18 ERA | 3.72 FIP | 1.27 WHIP | .5 Hr/9 | 8.1 H/9 | .288 BABIP | 63.1 GB% | 11.1 LD% | 21.5 FB%

A career 63.1 percent ground ball rate, an unsavory strikeout rate and slowly improving control leaves my lips mouthing, “Justin Masterson, Jaime Garcia, and even Aaron Cook” while my fingers type, “He’ll be playing in the AL East on a terrible team.” Yeah, it’s hard being an Orioles fan, yet alone one of their players. However, Britton possesses strong skills – sinking fastball, low home run rates, even LHB/RHB and Home/Away splits in the minors – to quiet the bats of the AL East beasts. There aren’t any injury concerns that raise red flags from his past. Last year, he started feeling “shoulder fatigue” in his pitching shoulder when he neared 140 innings pitched. He’s done well this year at Double-A and should be in line for a promotion to Triple-A if he keeps pitching well. His “stuff” isn’t going to blow major league players away like Strasburg, but Law says his slider has the, “potential [to be an] out pitch when he’s not getting ground balls.” Currently, he’s nothing more than a name to put on your September call-up radar as pitchers Brandon Erbe and Pat Egan would get a shot at the majors before Britton. With the O’s season nearly over, September may come sooner rather than later if you’re catching what I’m pitching.

Logan Morrison | 1B | Florida Marlins | DOB: 8-25-87 | 6’2” | 215 lbs | B/T: L/L | 22nd rd. 2005 Draft and follow from College | FLA #2 prospect according to Baseball America (2010) | MiLB Player Page

Drafted out of Maple Woods (Mo.) Community College –yes, Albert Pujols played here – where Morrison’s body finished maturing by gaining two inches and 20 pounds. Blessed with a balanced, flat swing with plus-power, and the organizations best plate-discipline and as Keith Law points out he’s, “extremely strong with plus raw power when his wrist is healthy; he has great hip rotation and can drive a ball even if he doesn’t square it up perfectly.” Marlin fans were calling for him to play over Sanchez during Spring Training. Fair enough, but all the scouting reports I’ve read made certain to note that Sanchez, if producing, will need to switch positions for Morrison to be in the majors. If you have been following the Marlins outfield, than you know Sanchez doesn’t have much of a shot playing out there, nor does Morrison who plays adequate defense at first. So how has Morrison performed this year?

2010 stats from Triple-A (PCL)
2010 Stats: .328/.415/.555 | 137 AB | 20 XBH | 4 Hr | .227 ISO | 1/1 SB/CS | 20:20 K:BB | .363 BABIP | 49.2 GB% | 13.9 LD% | 37.3 FB%

Career Stats: .293/.379/.470 | 1551 AB | 162 XBH | 51 Hr | .177 ISO | 22/11 SB/CS | 276:210 K:BB | .328 BABIP | 49.5 GB% | 16.9 LD% |33.5 FB%

Hampered by a broken thumb in 2009, Morrison became extremely patient at the plate. Another thing he does at the plate, he uses the gaps instead of always swinging for the fences. For example, Baseball America noted that he rivals Mike Stanton in BP, but during games he’s not looking for the towering homers. This year his LHP/RHP and Home/Away splits are showing no significant differences. Here is what I wrote about Morrison this offseason in my Minor League Review of the Florida Marlins, “He projects to be a number three hitter as he has great plate-discipline, a solid swing, and consistently puts the bat on the ball. His defense is average at best. The Marlins have played him in the outfield because they want Morrison and Gaby Sanchez in the same lineup. He is currently playing at Triple-A and will need an injury or a prolonged slump by Sanchez to play in the majors before September this year.” All that still sounds about right, but with an added possibility of a trade. I like Morrison. A LOT! It’s not often when a hitter projects to be a .300 average hitter with 30 homers and good plate discipline. I’d be on him like white rice in wild rice soup if I were any of you who are in a Dynasty league with minor league spots. If you listen to the rumor mills, you waiver wire pirates should swoop in when you hear any serious media rumors/stories about his potential call-up.

  1. Asdrubal Bastardo says:

    I love to see a young hitter state that he is focusing on plate discipline and solid hits more than “going yard” even though he is more than capable of doing so. You know what other player takes that approach? Albert Pujols

  2. Mike says:

    Grey or anyone- Are you on the “Johan is on the decline and needs to be traded immediately” bandwagon? I just got an offer today for Reynolds…is that good value?

  3. Good stuff. I’ve been keeping an eye on Morrison since this spring. The kid can rake and I’m sure the power will come. Do you see the Fish trading Morrison or Sanchez this year? I suppose it depends on if they are contending come the deadline.

    @Mike: I like the Johan side but I suppose it depends if you need pitching and can take the hit to power. Johan’s always been a better 2nd half pitcher. While he had one bad inning in his last start against the Yanks, his velocity seemed better – he was at 90 consistently, as opposed to the 88-89 his fast ball was topping out at in earlier starts. I don’t think Johan is hurt, but I have read that he got into some poor mechanical habits while pitching hurt last season.

  4. Mark says:

    Grey or anyone,

    I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I’m in first place leading the second place team by 16.5 games in a H2H league, so I’m pretty much assured first place unless my team takes a huge dump all over itself. Anyway, my pitching has been my strength, but with Garza pitching poorly, and Strasburg and Hughes possibly having their innings cut when I need them most (fantasy playoffs), what should I do? I still have Lester, Ubaldo, Price, Pelfrey, and Anderson (stashed on the DL). Would it be wise to make a big deal and trade Strasburg and/or Hughes? I’m sure I could get the world from Strasburg, and he might be shut down by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around. What should I do?

  5. GopherDay says:

    @Mark: Market them around and see what you could get for them. If you could get an ace for Strasburg (CC, Lester, etc.) that would help you out in September go for it. Same goes for Hughes, but you wouldn’t be able to get as much in return for them.

  6. fitz says:

    I hate you Ricky Nolasco.

  7. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @fitz: ditto,glad i was outbid in one league though

  8. fitz says:

    yeah this guy drives me crazy after a miserable 2nd inning he doesn’t allow a run and K’s 8 and is in line for the win

  9. Adam says:

    Nice analysis. I need help with keepers. Of the following, I can choose a one year keeper and a two-year keeper. Who do you choose and for which contract?
    carlos santana, boesch, ike davis, stanton

  10. Stephen says:

    @Asdrubal Bastardo: That’s some pretty big company to live up to.

    @Mike: I agree with 3FingerBrown.

    @3FingersBrown: Maybe Cody Ross. Not sure why they would trade Morrison or Sanchez if they aren’t making the playoffs. They both will be under team control for a longer period of time.

    @Mark: Package Garza and Hughes. If you can get a long term ace straight up for Strasburg, I’d be tempted to do it (in one year leagues). With 19 IP already this year in the majors, he’ll have about about 12 to 14 more starts this year – if assuming 100 IP limit with 7 IP a start.

    @Adam: This is one of the hardest questions I’ve ever received. Boesch is rather old to be considered in this discussion – at 25. Something about his seems fluky (like his 127:33 K:BB last year at Double-A when he hit 28 homers). Santana is a catcher and in fantasy baseball, I’m with Grey here about catchers in this game – Joe Mauer is an excellent example. One year: Ike Davis Two year: Mike Stanton.

  11. @Stephen: True dat. I have an image in my head of Bobby V taking over and the Fish making a run, in which case I can see them adding a reliever. Than again they probably wouldn’t add payroll.

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