Baltimore Orioles

Fantasy Baseball Prospect Report: Orioles' Zach Britton to Make MLB Debut Sunday

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 11:  U.S. Futures All-Star Zach Britton #12 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Nick KappelAnalyst IIIApril 3, 2011

According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, Baltimore Orioles starter Brian Matusz will miss three to six weeks with a strained intercostal muscle.

Zack Britton will take Matusz’ spot in the rotation, making his major league debut on Sunday against the Rays.

Britton is the Orioles’ No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America. The 23-year-old southpaw has made major strides since being drafted in the third round out of high school in 2006.

An extreme ground-ball pitcher, Britton featured the “best sinker in the minor leagues,” again according to Baseball America, to go along with a low 90s fastball, a plus slider and a serviceable changeup.  

In 153 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Britton led Orioles farmhands in ERA (2.70), while posting a 1.23 WHIP, 7.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.

In February, Baseball America ranked Britton as the No. 28 prospect overall—one spot ahead of Blue Jays right-hander Kyle Drabek.

Britton offers No. 2 starter upside long-term, but he’ll certainly experience the typical highs and lows of a rookie pitcher in 2011. He’s not a safe play in his major league debut against the Rays, but could offer value in mixed leagues afterwards, depending on his performance.

Given that Baltimore’s rotation is very thin—Justin Duchscherer is also currently on the DL, recovering from hip surgery—Britton could stick if he pitches well over the next few weeks.

Monitor this situation closely.

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