Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Drake Britton was just optioned from big league spring training camp to the minors. Although he wasn’t ready for the majors, the move was likely prompted by his recent arrest for DUI.
The left-handed Britton was arrested over the weekend, according to WFTX-TV Fort Myers, which was shared in a tweet by CSNNE.com’s Maureen Mullen:
The story was later confirmed by The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes reported in a series of tweets that Britton was arrested for driving 111 mph in a 45 mph zone and crashing through a fence.
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
Edes provided a more detailed account of the arrest in his blog.
BustedMugShots.com published a mugshot photo of the pitcher.
Britton was given a $700,000 signing bonus by the Red Sox when he was the team’s 23rd-round selection in the 2007 draft, according to a CSNNE.com report. He decided to sign instead of attending Texas A&M University.
He missed a lot of time because of injuries earlier in his career, including Tommy John surgery prior to the 2009 season.
Often compared to Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, the 23-year-old Britton was just a combined 4-18 with a 4.82 ERA in his first four professional seasons.
Despite the lack of production, Baseball America’s Jim Callis named him Boston’s fifth-best prospect for 2011; ahead of the likes of Josh Reddick and Felix Doubront. Since then, he has fallen off of the team’s top-10 prospect list.
Britton had the best season of his career in 2012, going 7-12 with a 4.44 ERA and 118 strikeouts while splitting his time between high Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
He had just a 5.80 ERA in 10 games with Salem before being summoned to Portland and posting a 3.72 ERA in 16 games for the Sea Dogs.
Britton struggled this spring for the Red Sox, making two appearances and allowing four walks, five hits and three earned runs in 3.1 innings, without a decision. He also threw a wild pitch, hit a batter and struck out one.
He was also in camp last year, primarily to soak up experience from the veteran pitchers, according to the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton (not related). Britton the pitcher told Britton the reporter that Lester was who he watched the most:
Obviously they want me—and I want—to watch Jon Lester and how he goes about his business. They told me that, pretty much all spring and the time I'm up here, I need to watch what he does, do what he does and interact with him as much as possible. That's what I've been doing. He's been really nice, really helpful working with me on some things they want me to work on that he does.
Following Britton’s arrest over the weekend, the team tweeted that he was one of three players who had been cut from major league camp:
Roster Moves: #RedSox optioned LHP Drake Britton to Portland & reassigned IF/OF Justin Henry & SS Deven Marrero to minor league camp.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) March 4, 2013
Britton will be returning to Portland, where he finished last season and pitched the best ball of his career.
He is now at a crossroads. He’s obviously made a huge mistake that will impact him both on and off the field. How he responds to this will largely determine how his baseball career will play out.
His actions should be equally disappointing to him and the team because of the obvious implications and because it cut into his time in major league camp this spring.
It’s a shame that Britton has started his 2013 season with such a setback. It remains to be seen if he can bounce back once again from adversity and fulfill his baseball potential.
Statistics via Baseball-Reference