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When I watched the Bowie Baysox play Thursday amidst sunshine at Prince Georges Stadium, I saw an O's top pitching prospect dealing with a rough stretch and a veteran O's minor leaguer proving once again he has a solid bat.
Last year, when Zach Britton was named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year at Frederick, he gave up four runs or more just six times in 24 starts. Now he has allowed that many in three straight starts.
"Some things didn't go my way, but it's still early in the year. I have a lot of starts left and a lot that I want to improve on. Things are going in the right direction," the 22-year-old Britton said after giving up four runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 in a loss vs. Erie.
Britton also said "he was not calling anyone out, but we need to play better fundamentally."
O's prospect Zach Britton talks with the O's Xtra crew about his development
Britton seems frustrated a bit after giving up six unearned runs over his last two starts. The Baysox have made 22 errors, second worst in the Eastern League and their middle infield of Ryan Adams and Pedro Florimon have a combined 14 errors.
That is partially a reason why Britton's ERA is 5.52 over his last three starts. Britton knows as a top prospect he is a marked man by opposing lineups and is also expected to pitch well often by the fans.
"I think I expect that out of myself. I know I won't throw a shutout every time I go out there, but I expect that I should throw the pitches like I can and not walk guys. Throw strikes and get ahead of hitters. I feel like I've done that, sometimes things didn't go my way, but that's baseball."
Britton, who went 9-6, 2.70 last year with the Keys, is now 1-2, 4.32 in five Bowie starts. He has given up 30 hits in 25 innings with eight walks and 19 strikeouts.
He talked about the challenge of facing Double-A hitters this season for the first time.
"You know, I'm facing some of the same guys as last year. The strike zone is a little smaller and hitters are a little more patient. They make adjustments.
"I'll throw the sinker and they'll see the first time through that if it starts at the knees, it will break down for a ball and they'll lay off it. That's just about making adjustments.
"It's good. I think I learn more off of failure than I will off success, so you take the good with the bad. This will help me grow as a pitcher."
Meanwhile, his Bowie teammate Paco Figueroa is raking again. A hot streak has his average up to .348 and that is 4th in the league. Later today, more on Paco and his recent torrid hitting.
More Baysox notes: At 12-9, Bowie is in second place in the Western Division.....But since a 9-1 start, Bowie is 3-8.......The Baysox have allowed 37 runs during a five-game losing skid......Brandon Waring is batting .385 his last six games........Robbie Widlansky is 2nd in the league in batting (.367) and 1st in OBP (.466)......Adams has eight doubles, tied for 1st in the league......Tim Bascom is 2-1, 2.28 with the 10th best ERA in the loop.....Bowie begins a ten-game road trip tonight at Richmond.