Lefty Power Arm: Drake Britton
I had the chance to see the Portland Sea Dogs’ Drake Britton on August 25 versus the Binghamton Mets. He is a 6-2 200 lb. left-hander who was drafted in the 23rd round ofthe 2007 draft. Britton worked 3 2/3 innings surrendering 5 hits, walking 3, and striking out 6. He threw 85 pitches, 57 for strikes and 28 for balls. He threw first-pitch strikes to only 52.6% of the hitters he faced. He battled through counts and even struck out a batter he fell behind 3-0. I felt he was prone to long innings and allowed things to unravel quickly. I did not care for his demeanor and histrionics during those innings.
Britton has an athletic, well-proportioned build. He has very long legs and a high waist. Average hand-size, shoulder width, and arm length. I would say he has a slightly above average pitcher’s build.
Britton starts on the extreme 3b side of the rubber and begins his windup with a small side step. He raises his hands above his head and brings them to waist level before reaching a strong balance point. He threw anywhere from a high 3/4 to normal 3/4 delivery. His body control was excellent and his delivery was smooth – until his front foot contact. After his plant foot hit his delivery became rushed and lost consistency. After plant everything that was controlled and repeatable in his delivery became erratic. Once he reaches this point and rushes his delivery he has further trouble repeating his arm slot, front foot landing… and as a consequence his control suffered. I feel some of this can be attributed to his change in arm speeds for his curveball too. If this flaw in his mechanics was addressed his overall effort, control, and deception could greatly improve.
Britton displayed a heater that sat 91-93, topping out at 95, with biting arm-side tail. The pitch features solid life that could be improved even more with greater control, command and consistency. When he kept the ball down the angle of the pitch was driven and aggressive. His FB command in general was inconsistent and he struggled getting ahead and staying ahead of hitters.
He featured two different breaking pitches. The curveball he threw early in counts and was 74-76. This throw-me over curve was his most effective pitch getting ahead of hitters. He possessed average control of the slow curve. Unfortunately, he slowed down his delivery and armspeed when throwing it, telegraphing the pitch. The second breaker has more of a slurve feel with tight break and a lot of depth, thrown around 79-84. This slurve was hard and biting and he threw it with less control. With more consistent arm speed and command the hard slurve has the ability to become an out pitch and can compliment his fastball very well.
The change-up was thrown very sporadically. It sat 76-79 and was more of a “show-me” pitch than an effective piece of his arsenal. The change-piece was a below average offering overall but was kept below the knees consistently. His arm speed and delivery on the CU was a lot more similar to his fastball delivery than his curve. Ultimately this pitch needs a whole lot of further development if Drake hopes to become a Major League starter.
Britton is a left-handed pitcher with a high-velocity fastball. I feel he is better suited for the bullpen because he lacks a third effective offering. With some adjustments to his mechanics and improvement with his change-up he does have the potential to become a middle of the rotation starter. He needs to repeat his mechanics better, fix the arm speed on and stop tipping his slurve, and develop his change-up in that particular order. Realistically that is a plethora of adjustments for a 23 year old pitcher in AA to make. However the worst case isn’t all that bad here and Britton has the potential to be a middle to late innings reliever in the pros with some improvement in any of those three facets. Britton is not far from being a useful lefty power arm – and teams are always looking for those.
- Ceiling – A middle of the rotation left-handed arm that has some trouble throwing strikes but possesses the moxie and overall make-up to consistently get outs and keep his team in ballgames despite his flaws. Poor man’s Jon Lester?
- Basement – AAAA starter that does not possess the command or control to prevent runs from being scored despite quality stuff and velo.
- Likely – Middle innings MLB reliever that will struggle at times to retire hitters but with a consistent ability to get lefties out.