It was about a month ago that O’s top pitching prospect Zach Britton sat with agent Scott Boras for lunch.
Nearly four hours later they were still talking.
“We had a long lunch with Scott and talked baseball a lot, but it was more just getting to know him and I was really impressed,” Britton said.
So the lefty that was the O’s minor league pitcher of the year for the 2010 season, decided it was time to change agents.
He moved from the Hendricks brothers, neither of which he had ever even met once, to the Boras corporation.
“I had heard some negative stuff about Scott but I went into it with an open mind and he was really knowledgeable and it seemed like he had a real passion about what he is doing and I am real passionate about the game.”
Britton said the biggest benefit and a big reason he went with Boras is their California training facility.
There, Britton works out with other big leaguers and minor leaguers looking to get his body into top shape and make a run at an O’s rotation spot in 2011.
“The goals they have for me include to become more flexible with my hips to prevent injury and add some more strength to my upper body. They have a nutrition guide and I’ve never been on a nutrition program before,” Britton said.
“I am around 195 to just under 200 right now and they feel like my frame could hold 205 to 210 pounds and still be lean, a good playing weight. They would like me to be around that range. This could help me get through September and hopefully into October, right?”
Well, that is a good goal.
Britton is not just going out on his own here, doing his own thing. He is just working on what he feels are needed improvements and said the Boras trainers will reach out to the O’s front office and keep them up to date.
“From what they say the Orioles are really good with communication with them and will reach out to the strength coaches that work for Boras.”
Britton also expects to soon begin his offseason throwing program.
“I think I’m a little earlier than others. I start December first. I want my best shot at making that rotation out of spring training,” he said.
“I want to start a little early and be able to work on my fastball command, that’s one area I want to stress this offseason. The earlier I start that, the better I feel I will be when spring training arrives.
“I feel like they will really give me a chance to win a spot in the rotation. If they feel like I’m ready, maybe I’ll start (the season) in the rotation. I have to make that opportunity work.”
Meanwhile, Britton said he also wants to begin throwing a true curveball again. In recent seasons, he has gone with his sinking fastball along with a slider and change-up.
If he can get comfortable with it this winter, the curve could resurface in his arsenal.
“Just another weapon to throw in there and keep hitters off balance. More like an off-speed pitch. It won’t be a swing and miss pitch but not everything will come hard at them.
“I won’t have like the Steve Johnson, really, nice slow curveball, just something to show the better hitters to keep them honest, along with the change-up.”
He made big improvements with his change-up this past season, but said his slider is probably still his best secondary pitch, although on a given day, the change can be as good, sometimes better, than that slider.
“I want my slider to be almost like a cutter eventually. The slider is where I get all my strikeouts, lefties and righties. I don’t get a lot of strikeouts on my sinker, that’s a groundball pitch.
“Watching Cliff Lee throw, he dominated in October with two pitches for the most part. I saw how he used that cutter.”