By Jon Meoli
The Baltimore Sun
3:14 PM EDT, May 6, 2014
Buck Britton has been in this position before.
The 28-year-old utility infielder has shuttled between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk plenty of times. But this time, Britton has a little shine to him. Zack Britton’s older brother hit .344/.382/.492 in 28 games for the Baysox before he earned a promotion to Norfolk on Sunday.
Britton hasn’t had a hit in two games for the Tides, but don’t expect that to last long. He’s a career .289/.338/.404 hitter in the minors.
And while he’s never hit for much power, it’s Britton’s versatility that gets him noticed. He has played only third base and designated hitter this season, but he played first base, second base, third base, left field, and right field in 2013. He’s so flexible with where he plays that he played the fewest games at third base last year, despite it being one of his primary positions, along with second base.
The Orioles have their share of guys who can play all over the infield and outfield, but what would separate Britton from any of them would be the ability to play shortstop — which he hasn’t done since the Appalachian League in 2008.
Britton joins Steve Lombardozzi in Norfolk, another player who plays everywhere except shortstop. When Lombardozzi was optioned to Norfolk last week, manager Buck Showalter mentioned Britton as another player who the team considers as infield depth.
But perhaps not coincidentally, both Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty have much more shortstop experience under their belt. Both are still on the roster. Jemile Weeks also played shortstop for a spell last year in Triple-A Sacramento.
So while Britton will likely be on Showalter’s mind whenever he needs an example of a minor-leaguer-come-good, he faces a crowded cast of versatile, potentially valuable infielders in the minors.
Davies on DL again
Pitcher Zack Davies’ shoulder problems have put him on the disabled list for the second time in this young season. In his most recent start, on April 28, Davies struck out 10 in seven innings, with five walks and two runs allowed. At just 21 years old, Davies is one of several young pitchers in the Bowie rotation with potential to make an impact on the big-league club.
Left-hander Tim Berry also is part of that group. Berry was mentioned last week as a short-term bullpen option by Orioles manager Buck Showalter, but he’s allowed 13 runs over 10 innings in his last two starts. Berry has been victimized by the long ball, with four home runs allowed in his last two outings. The 23-year-old is on the 40-man roster, so his development will be under closer scrutiny this year.
Bye bye, Byron
Well, more like we wish you showed up at all. This weekend’s visit from the New Britain Rock Cats, an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, has been circled on my calendar since the schedule came out.
In outfielder Byron Buxton, the consensus top prospect in all of baseball, and third baseman Miguel Sano, New Britain was supposed to bring a duo of stars in the making to Prince George's Stadium.
But alas, Sano had Tommy John surgery in spring training. Buxton missed all of April with a wrist injury, and though he returned earlier this week, he needs a bit of time in Class-A Fort Myers before he begins his Eastern League campaign.
New Britain doesn’t come back to Bowie, so the next time anyone in this area will lay eyes on that pair is when the Twins come to town in 2015.
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