Buck Britton has accrued some impressive accolades in his first year as the manager of Double-A Bowie after leading the Baysox to the Eastern League playoffs with a big second-half turnaround.
Previously serving as Low-A Delmarva's manager in 2018 and hitting coach in 2017, Britton moved up two levels in the Orioles' minor-league ladder to join Bowie's staff prior to the season. The Baysox began the year with a 7-23 record but finished 76-64 overall. Bowie won the Eastern Division's Western division second-half title with a 46-26 mark.
Britton was recently named Eastern League Manager of the Year and is humbled by the honor.
When asked about the transition from Low-A to Double-A, Britton said, "In Bowie, I have a little more free reign on how to run a bullpen. ... The challenge was trying to stay far enough ahead of the game."
Britton also touched on several prospects from his squad:
- Left-handed pitcher Zac Lowther, 23, was drafted out of Xavier in 2017. This year, Lowther has a 13-7 record with a 2.55 ERA and 154 strikeouts through 148 innings pitched. Britton said Lowther "has a disappearing fastball in the top of the zone and is developing a breaking ball and changeup."
- Lefty Alex Wells, 22, was signed out of Australia in 2015. He has racked up an 8-6 record with a 2.95 ERA atop 105 strikeouts throughout 137.1 innings pitched. Wells is "fearless, his fastball is between 87 and 89 [mph], he is not afraid to pitch inside to guys and knows how to pitch and keep guys off balance," according to Britton.
- Right-hander Michael Baumann, 23, was taken in the third round out of Jacksonville University in 2017. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound pitcher split time between Bowie and Frederick this year. In Bowie, he has a 6-2 record with a 2.31 ERA and 65 strikeouts during 70 innings pitched.
Baumann "looks the part, a monster out there on the mound, throws straight over the top and is developing a nice slider and breaking ball," Britton said.
- Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who was acquired through the Manny Machado deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2018, has been riddled with hip, hamstring and quadriceps issues the past two years. However, Diaz has been a solid middle-of-the-order producer when he's been healthy enough to play this year; he's hitting .262/.335/.472 for the Baysox.
"He's had an injury plagued year," Britton said. "He's got a lot of ability, but the important thing with him is to get his lower half in a little better shape so he can make it through a whole season."
- Britton also has had the opportunity to work with infielders Preston Palmeiro and Ryan Ripken, who are the sons of Rafael Palmeiro and Cal Ripken Jr., respectively. "Both are great people and they understand that they are both individual people and are trying to carve a path for themselves," Britton said.
For more from Britton, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan/Bowie Baysox