While Ryan Zimmerman and Ty Wigginton wait to find out if they’re going to play in the All-Star Game, three minor league players in the Nationals' and Orioles' organizations have already been named to the XM Radio Futures Game.
A showcase of baseball’s most revered prospects that dates back to 1999, the futures game will be played in Anaheim next Sunday.
The Orioles will be represented by left-handed starting pitcher Zach Britton.
Britton, 22, pitched six shutout innings in his Triple A debut earlier this week. He earned a promotion to the highest level of the minor leagues after posting a 7-3 record and an impressive 2.48 ERA through 14 starts at Double A Bowie.
Britton’s a ground ball machine who specializes in pitching with natural sink and keeping the ball down (he gets 3.1 groundouts per flyout).
Camden Yards is known for its thick, pitcher-friendly, infield grass. That’s just one reason why Britton projects to have a long, illustrious run with the Orioles.
“He’s really good,” said Brian Matsuz, the lone southpaw in Baltimore’s big league rotation. “I always noticed that he pitched better with more talent around and against him. He should just keep getting better.”
Britton, drafted in the third round in 2006, has a 3.07 career ERA in 94 games.
The Nationals will send two representatives to this year’s futures game. Shortstop Danny Espinosa and outfielder Eury Perez will be taking the field for the U.S. and World teams, respectively.
Espinosa, participating in the game for the second straight year, is hitting .249 with 9 homers and 27 RBI in Double A. He’s considered a long-term solution in the middle of Washington’s infield.
The 23-year-old former third-rounder is a slick fielder who’s flashed some power (he went deep 18 times last season).
Perez, 20, is a toolsy outfielder from the Dominican Republic. He’s hitting .249 at Low A Hagerstown. Unlike Espinosa and Britton, he’s not in the express lane toward the major leagues.
Britton should compete for a spot in Baltimore’s rotation next spring. Espinosa might be ready for a mid-season promotion to the big leagues in 2011.
It’s not very often that you get to see tomorrow’s stars today, but that will be the case, on a national stage, next weekend.