Orioles’ Minor Leaguers On the Move; Britton: “This is the Last Step of the Developmental Process for Me”

July 02, 2010 | Ryan Chell

With a lot of movement around the Orioles minor leagues over the last two days, three Baltimore prospects, including two of the organization’s top players, made the most of their opportunities with new teams.

On Wednesday night, former Delmarva pitcher Nathan Moreau, in his first start since joining the Orioles’ Single A Frederick , threw a no-hitter in his Keys debut against the Salem Red Sox.

Not a bad start for Moreau, who not only threw the sixth career no-hitter for the Keys organization, but he also threw his first ever complete game and shutout all in the same night.

Moreau told Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” that he was really focused, cause he doesn’t really remember anything that happened outside of his pitching performance.

Nathan Moreau

“I was in the zone so much that I didn’t even feel what the audience was doing,” Moreau said. “I heard some cheers after the game…but during the game I couldn’t tell you.”

And his teammates made sure to not jinx him either.

“It all started in the seventh inning. I like to talk to guys in the dugout,” Moreau said. “Everybody started moving away, so I said “okay…I’ll sit down and do the role’.”

It is arguably the best start ever for the former Georgia Bulldog, who the Orioles took in the 11th round of the 2008 draft.

His fastball was strong on the night, and the Red Sox were caught off-balance by the southpaw’s ability to change speeds. Most of his outs were recorded via fly outs, and he struck out six.

“I was able to keep the ball down for the most part of the night. They put some good swings on a couple of the balls, and the outfielders ran them out and made tough plays making awesome catches at the wall. That really helps.”

He faced the minimum 27 batters despite two errors committed; ironically, one was made by Moreau himself.

Moreau said that he started thinking he was in good position after the fourth inning, because he had a start earlier this year in Delmarva where he pitched four perfect frames and eventually lost it in the fifth.

He feels like that while he is still only in Single A, it’s just another step in his progression toward hopefully making the big league club some day.

“That’s my plan. That’s why we all play. I go out there everyday, compete, and try and put up the best numbers I can.”

The promotions continued at the Orioles’ Triple A affiliate, Norfolk, where one of the top pitching prospects in Andy MacPhail‘s organization, Zach Britton, made his Tides debut as he moved up from Bowie.
Zach Britton
In his International League debut, Britton went six innings, allowing three hits while striking out four. But he did not earn the win, posting a no decision.

Britton spent a few minutes with Luke Jones and Rex Snider before making that first start at the highest level of the Orioles farm system.

At Double-A Bowie, Britton was pitching very well and certainly that was a factor in Orioles management making the decision to change Britton’s team.

A third-round pick by the Orioles in 2006 out of high school, Britton started 14 games for the Baysox, going 7-3 with a 2.48 ERA and recorded 68 strikeouts in 76 innings.

Britton said it’s a great league for young pitchers to start to acclimated to how teams face pitchers in the major leagues, when it comes to batters seeing your repertoire.

“It’s a good league to make adjustments,” Britton said. “I faced the Kinston Indians about 10-12 times out of my 24 starts. It’s a lot of time for them to see me and make adjustments on me.  I feel like it that’s a really good league where you learn how to pitch, since you can’t keep just doing the same thing.”

But while Moreau’s trip to Baltimore may be many years away, Britton( the 2009 Carolina League Pitcher of the Year) is maybe a step or two away from the big leagues if he continues to pitch well.

And given the movement of Orioles pitchers Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta back and forth between Norfolk and Baltimore, Britton could be one phone call away from the big leagues if an injury or a trade-maybe Kevin Millwood or Jeremy Guthrie-occurs now that he is in the mix at Triple-A.

“During spring training, my goal was to get to Baltimore. They felt like that was something I could accomplish this year… toward the end of the season. It all depends on how I go out and perform.”

“This is the last step of the developmental process for me,” Britton continued. “They given me the promotion, and I’m going to take it as a challenge and hopefully continue to do well in Triple-A.”

And finally, in last night’s game between the O’s and the Athletics, if you want to talk about curve balls, the biggest one of the day was the decision to promote third baseman Josh Bell from Triple A Norfolk to start in the finale against Oakland.

Josh Bell

The move was retroactive to Baltimore placing Luke Scott on the DL Thursday after he hurt his hamstring taking a stroll around the base path Wednesday after hitting a home run.

Bell, the centerpiece of the George Sherrill trade to the Dodgers last year, went 1-for-4 in his major league debut and recorded his first career hit in the seventh inning-a single off A’s starter Trevor Cahill. He also struck out once and also committed an error.

Bell said that he was just trying to keep his whits about him after being given the news. Bell was probably just as shocked as the fans and the media were about the decision to promote him.

I’m anxious a little bit and ready to get after it,” Bell told the Carroll County Times’ Josh Land last night. “I feel good. I thought I would be a little more nervous, but I’m trying to control it.”

Bell is probably a temporary move with both Felix Pie and Mike Gonzalez both expected to rejoin the ball club in the near future.

For now, let’s hope these prospects continue to adjust to their new teams, and Bell can tear the cover off the ball for the time he’s playing for the big league club, so much so that he either helps the O’s get some much needed wins before the All-Star break, or learns a few things about the major leagues before continuing his progression down at Norfolk.

Tune into 1570 WNST as we continue to track the progress of these and all the Orioles prospects! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!