Welcome to our latest installment of Road to the Show, with Spinners starter Drake Britton. Britton was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2007 Amateur Draft by the Boston Red Sox after sliding down draft boards due to a strong commitment to Texas A+M. Britton eventually signed for a sizeable bonus for a late round pick and began his career in Lowell last season. Drake’s season was cut short by injury and eventual Tommy John surgery.
After a lengthy rehab, Britton made four appearances in the GCL before making his way back to Lowell this past Wednesday. Britton is a highly regard prospect, being a southpaw who’s fastball reaches the upper nineties, a 12-6 curve and a changeup. Drake took some time to answer some questions for the Spinners Blog.
Drake, you started your career in Lowell last season, talk about how this season compares to last season?
Last season, I was really unsure about my delivery and I hurt my arm August 3rd of last year. I had a year to get everything back on track pitching wise, so I feel like I came back a lot stronger this year than I was last year. It was hard knowing you weren’t a hundred percent and having to battle that as well as hitters the entire season.
When I had my surgery, they told me it was a gradual tear of my ulnar collateral ligament that was created over two or three years. I remember feeling it just give out on me when I was throwing a pitch in that game on August 3rd of last year. I knew right away that it was going to be awhile until I was back on the mound.
You were drafted in 2007, what was draft day like for you and the process leading up to your signing?
Draft day was out of sync for me, I really didn’t know what to expect or where I was going to end up. I tried not to put a lot of thought into it and I was just hoping for the best. The Red Sox called me on the second day, telling me they picked me and wanting to get me in the fold. The Sox wanted to see me pitch some more before signing me so I had to pitch all throughout the summer; it wasn’t a done deal after the draft at all. I was very excited it was the Red Sox who drafted me; I had to go through a long process of meetings and negotiations to get my deal finally wrapped up.
Do you have anything special you do to prepare for a game?
I like to pray before every inning it’s just something I like to do to mentally prepare myself to take the mound.
You were drafted out of Tomball High in Texas, how was it playing in Tomball?
I loved Tomball, I got called up to varsity when I was a sophomore, I played three years on varsity and we had a great team every year. I really enjoyed my time there, just playing with a bunch of great kids and having a great time playing baseball. I did play some football freshman year but I think I was a backup defensive lineman so nothing special, baseball was where I was focused.
You were committed to Texas A+M before signing with the Red Sox, was that hard to pass up?
It was, I went to a couple of games out there and I loved the surroundings, the fans, it was a tough choice to turn it down. I wanted to play pro ball earlier than I thought after seeing the situation I was going to be getting myself into with the Red Sox. Just seeing the success they have had with development of young players over the years and knowing they would take good care of me went a long way toward my decision to sign.
Has the surgery affected you at all, how do you feel you have come back from it?
I have felt no ill effects from the surgery, I feel stronger than ever, which is completely opposite from last year. In 2008, I never really felt I was at my best. Even though nobody ever likes to have surgery or be injured, I feel like it was a great thing for me to have the surgery, because I am pitching better than I ever have right now.
Growing up who were your favorite team and player?
I didn’t really have a favorite team; I loved Ken Griffey Jr., so I am happy to see him back with the Mariners where he belongs.
What goals do you have for this season and the future?
This season I just want to stay healthy and keep my arm strong. I want to work hard in the off-season and come back to spring training looking to take my game to the next level.
What is your most memorable baseball experience?
The one moment that sticks out to me most came in my junior year when I pitched against Cy Fair High School (Cypress, TX). They beat me the first part of the year, and we had to beat them to make the playoffs. That first time facing them I got absolutely hammered, then that game we needed to win, I absolutely shut them down so it was amazing being able to come through like that for my team.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I am a huge entourage fan, other than that I’m just an ordinary easy going guy.