It's way too soon to christen Zach Britton the ace of a pitching staff. However, based on his starts for the Orioles so far, he may be it.
As of right now, it is accurate to say that he is exceeding expectations.
Most thought that Britton would be solid, perhaps go through the school of hard knocks at the major league level. Rather than coming off as a fresh-faced rookie - which Britton basically still is - he's pitching like a tenured, proven major league veteran at the moment.
To win four games in April is an accomplishment, but for a rookie - who, by the way, wasn't even supposed to be on the team to start the season - in his first month in the majors is unbelievable.
Britton uses an assortment of pitches - cutter, fastball and curveball - to get batters out and so far, he's been able to make life difficult for opposing hitters. Even when Britton's stuff isn't on, he's fairly effective, still gets batters out and manages to at least keep his team in the game.
Although Britton struggled last night in the Orioles' walk-off win over the Kansas City Royals, he's a small but vital part. Why the future is brighter than it has ever been for the organization.
With a 5-2 record on the season and an ERA of 2.35, one could also say that he's worthy of being the team's All-Star selection for 2011.
During spring training, it was fairly evident to anyone who saw Britton in person that he was probably the best starting pitcher in camp, based on his numbers.
Of course, the Orioles tried to engage in a time-honored procedure when dealing with young, talented players: keeping them in the minors for a determined period of time so their arbitration clock starts ticking later.
In turn, the Orioles would gain an extra year before Britton would hit the free agent market.
However, Britton forced the team's hand with his performance down in Florida after Brian Matusz was lost due to injury.
So far, he's impressed seemingly everyone in the sport and is definitely a part of why the Orioles have hovered around the .500 mark and stuck around in the American League East.
It's hard to say what will happen down the road with him.
It's a relief to not have pitchers like Sidney Ponson, Daniel Cabrera and Matt Riley coming through the system now.
Britton could either face a devastating injury like Washington Nationals pitching phenomenon Stephen Strasburg faced, or struggle badly for a stretch during the season or in the second half; however, he's another in line of young Oriole pitchers who are starting make their mark.
That's a good thing to fans who have been starving for a brighter future for more than a decade.
It'shard to say if Britton will be the new ace of the Orioles, or even have a long career. But so far, it's been a nice development for a team that has struggled to nurture young talent.
Anthony Amobi blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O's appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.