The Orioles now have two Bucks managing in the organization. At their hot stove banquet last night in Salisbury, Md., the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds announced that Buck Britton will be their manager in 2018.
The older brother of Orioles closer Zach Britton, Buck was drafted by the club in the 35th round of the 2008 draft. After a nine-year playing career in the minors, the 31-year-old Britton moved into the coaching ranks last season when he was Delmarva’s hitting coach.
He takes over as manager from Ryan Minor, who was the Shorebirds skipper for the last three years and in six of the past seven seasons. Minor is expected to stay in the Orioles organization and his future role is yet to be announced.
The seeds of a minor league managing career for Britton may have been planted at Tropicana Field in early September 2016 before the Orioles played the Rays. Just weeks after he had been released by the Twins, Britton met at the ballpark with Orioles manager Buck Showalter and director of player development Brian Graham. He wanted to move on to a career as a coach and/or a manager. He got his chance last year. Now, after just one season in that role in the pro ranks, he will manage Delmarva through its South Atlantic League schedule, beginning April 5 at Perdue Stadium.
As such a young skipper, he should certainly be able to relate well with young players trying to make their mark on the farm.
“The biggest thing for me, and I’ve said it ever since I got into coaching, I want to be somebody as a manager or coach that I would have wanted to play for,” Britton said in a phone interview after last night’s banquet. “Now I am a guy that likes to have fun and keep things loose. But I also know when the lights go on at 7:05, it’s time to get focused. I want to be that guy that the players can not only relate to, but trust.
“I think the biggest thing for me being a young manager is I’m going to have to build trust with these kids. It’s a new generation of player coming up. The only way I feel I can do that is by building personal relationships with the guys. That is the approach I’m going to take with it.
“I am going to make sure they understand I have a job to do in helping develop them to get to the big leagues. But I understand these are human beings and they sometimes need a little bit extra to get going.”
Britton, whose staff has yet to be announced, knows he will be running a team of young players, some that may be playing full-season pro baseball for the first time.
“For sure,” he said. “Some of these guys come out of high school and maybe even college and haven’t been away from home much. In this league, add on some tough travel and it can be tough to get through 140 games in a season.”
But in projecting the 2018 Delmarva roster, there is a chance of a prospect-laden staff of pitchers with players such as DL Hall, Zac Lowther, Brenan Hanifee, Michael Baumann and Cameron Bishop possibly on the roster. Some position players that were solid last year at short-season Single-A Aberdeen and/or in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League could also move up, like catcher Ben Breazeale, outfielder Lamar Sparks, and infielders Ryan Ripken and Trevor Craport.
“I have definitely looked at that Aberdeen website and checked out some stats,” Britton said. “And I actually managed the instructional league team (last fall), so I kind of got my feet wet there. If it plays out the way it could, we should have pretty good arms down here and some young athletes. I think we will have a dynamic team if some of those guys from Aberdeen move up.”
Britton said he did get some initial advice about a potential future manager’s role from Showalter in that meeting at The Trop late in the 2016 season.
“He told me No. 1 to stay grounded and be ready to adapt to what the organization may need,” Britton said. “It is a transition, for sure, from playing. I didn’t play in the big leagues, but was around Buck a lot in spring training. Got to see him go about his business.”
He is definitely the lesser known of the O’s Britton brothers, but he doesn’t take lightly the opportunity the club has provided him at such a young age. Britton was known for being a smart and savvy player on the farm, and he clearly has a lot of respect already at various levels of the Orioles organization.
Add in that youthful enthusiasm and excitement about his new role, and now he can’t wait to get started.
“This is a huge honor, a huge blessing,” Britton said. “To think the Baltimore Orioles would think enough of me to impact not only the Shorebirds, but ultimately this impacts what they do in Baltimore in a sense. This is the first step for these kids that will hopefully get to Baltimore and win a championship.”
The market is still cool amid some tension: Meanwhile, despite free agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain coming to an agreement on a five-year contract worth $80 million with the Milwaukee Brewers, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports presents this column.
“The players, as engaged as they’ve been in economic matters in more than a decade - maybe more than any time since 1994 - are encouraging one another to stand firm amid teams’ efforts to remake the free agent market, sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports,” he writes.
Are the sides really digging in here? Is there truly an escalation of tensions between the owners and players?