It's not Britton's time yet

He is rated by Baseball America as the number three prospect in the entire O's organization and last year was named the Carolina League pitcher of the year.

Despite the accolades and new found fame, 22-year-old lefty Zach Britton did not get an invitation to Major League spring training with the Orioles this year, although there had been talk that he might get one.

"I was told earlier I may be going to big league spring training. They kind of put me on the plan to be ready to go. But they signed some guys and don't need to bring in as many (pitchers) to spring training this year and I know now I am not going to big league camp," Britton said.

Britton went 9-6, 2.70 in 24 starts in 2009 and was 2nd in the league in ERA and strikeouts, 4th in innings and tied for 5th in wins.

"It's disappointing, I felt like I had a good shot to go. But I understand what they are thinking. They had told me they weren't bringing as many guys in this year and I knew I was one of those guys hovering on the border."

Britton has been told he could be called over to big league camp at some point and might even pitch in some exhibition games as he preps in March for the new season.

He is expected to be in Double-A Bowie's rotation come April.

Britton pitched 140 innings for the Keys last summer, but left his last start of the year August 30th after just two innings.

"It was a hot day and I just didn't feel good. I came to the dugout and said 'I just feel like I am not loose.' I had no pain and it was not an injury, but they just shut me down. I wanted to throw again, but David Stockstill said you've had a good year, no reason to do anymore."

On March 2nd the O's minor league spring training camp will officially open in Sarasota and before long about 150 players will be at the Twin Lakes Park complex.

But they won't all be staying there.

Around the time the minor league exhibition games begin on March 17th, about 60 to 70 of the minor leaguers from higher levels like Double and Triple-A will move over to Ed Smith Stadium, the site of Major League spring training.

The Ed Smith complex can accommodate all the players and the Orioles will likely even play their Double and Triple-A home exhibition games at the Ed Smith complex.

"We'll have, for a period of time, a split minor league camp. We'll have everyone together for about the first two weeks. About the time the games start, we'll send some of the older players over to Ed Smith and our Double and Triple-A teams will play their games there," O's Director of Player Development David Stockstill said.

Coming next week - I'll have a feature story on Britton and how he has become one of the O's top young pitchers.

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