Spring training isn’t always about fun and games. However, it appears that Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Drake Britton may have had a little too much fun this past weekend in camp.
Britton was reportedly arrested for driving under the influence, according to WFTX-TV in Fort Myers, Fla. (h/t ESPN). As Gordon Edes points out, Britton was also one of the first to be optioned to minor league camp. Britton is headed to Double-A Portland where he’ll likely start the season.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. by Benjamin Klein
Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston has obtained some of the details on Britton’s arrest:
Sox p Drake Britton was arrested on reckless driving, DUI and property damage charges. Arrest report says he was driving 111 mph in 45 zone— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) March 5, 2013
Britton was arrested at 4:42 a.m. Saturday. He was scratched from Sunday appearance, and optioned to Double-A Portland next day.— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) March 5, 2013
Arresting officer said Britton was swerving thru slower-moving cars at that speed before jumping curb and crashing thru barbed wire fence— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) March 5, 2013
---End of Update---
The 23-year-old left-hander didn’t have an impressive spring training in big league camp. In 3.1 innings, Britton allowed three earned runs on five hits, walking four and striking out one. Opponents were hitting a whopping .385 off of him.
Britton may have been overmatched at times, but the strike zone didn’t change and that’s a lot of walks for few innings.
Britton, who had Tommy John surgery in 2008, hasn’t had the best of luck in the minor leagues either. Through five minor league seasons, Britton is 11-30 with a 4.68 ERA in nearly 350 innings. He’s also averaged 4.1 walks and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings over that span.
2011 was by far Britton’s worst year as he went 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA in 26 starts for the Single-A Salem Red Sox. That’s pretty bad—no matter how you spin it. Last season, between Salem and Double-A Portland, he went 7-12 with a 4.44 ERA in 129.2 innings of work. That’s certainly better than the year prior, but clearly he needs to develop more.
Mike Andrews of SoxProspects and ESPN Boston recently reviewed Boston’s minor league pitching core and included Britton in his analysis. Here’s a little bit of what he had to say:
He has had numerous bouts of control issues, and has tended to get rattled on the mound too easily. If he can maintain composure, get his breaking ball back to form, and keep his control somewhat consistent, Britton would make a solid seventh-inning reliever. Still, he may start 2013 in Portland’s starting rotation.
I, like Andrews, think that Britton will begin the year as a starting pitcher. Sure, he’s struggled quite a bit thus far, but 2013 will be the determining factor of whether he can be a starter or whether he needs to head to the bullpen. Command issues can be fixed, but the problem here may be personality.
The Red Sox haven’t had too many troublemakers over the last couple of years—or at least no one who has gotten into severe legal trouble.
If Britton hopes to pitch for the Red Sox, he needs to make a change. He needs to put 100 percent focus into his work on the mound and cannot afford to have these issues off the field. That’s not what’s going to help him become a big-league pitcher.
It was only a minor leaguer that this happened to, but maybe this is what needed to happen for manager John Farrell to keep the no alcohol in the clubhouse policy that was implemented in Boston last season.
It probably isn’t the most attractive policy in the world to the players, but inevitably, it could end up saving someone’s life. Drake Britton is lucky that he still has his.