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June 5, 2014

The Call-Up

Eddie Butler

by Craig Goldstein and Ron Shah


The Situation: Franklin Morales continues to turn in uncompetitive outings, and the Rockies have now decided to pull the plug on the starter and move him into the team’s bullpen. Colorado will fill the rotation spot by tapping into their starting pitching depth at the minor-league level, specifically by summoning Eddie Butler—the no. 2-ranked prospect in the system entering 2014—to the big leagues from Double-A Tulsa.

Background: The Rockies took Butler with the second of their two first round choices in the 2012 amateur draft, popping the right-handed pitcher out of Radford University with the no. 46 overall selection. Given Colorado’s unique home field environment at Coors Field, the Rockies felt Butler’s groundball generating arsenal would not only play well at the major leagues, but at their home ballpark. Baseball Prospectus identified Butler as a prospect on the rise within the Rockies system entering 2013, and he responded with an ERA of 1.80 across three minor-league levels. Butler’s continued his dominance in 2014, posting a 2.49 ERA across 68 2/3 innings of work this season with Double-A Tulsa. While Butler’s strikeout rate in 2014 is significantly lower than it was in 2013, we can attribute that to player-specific developmental focuses that had Butler pocketing his best offerings in order to strengthen the weaker links.

The Scouting: Now that the training wheels are off, Butler will have his entire six-pitch arsenal at his disposal to miss bats and, what the Rockies would most prefer, generate quick outs through early count groundballs.

With that in mind, look for Butler to attack hitters with a multitude of fastball looks, whether of them two-seam (92-93 mph), four-seam (mid-90s), or cutting (87-88 mph) variety. Butler is the rare pitcher who can run his fastball with plus-plus movement at plus-plus velocity, but don’t sleep on the cutter, which is also a bat-missing offering.

But that only covers half of Butler’s arsenal, which also features two different types of breaking pitches. One of which is a sharp mid-80s slider that Butler will throw at the back feet of opposite–handed hitters. The slider isn’t a wipeout offering, but it does flash plus due to its strong late depth. Then there is the traditional curveball, which Butler has been working on more as part of his development as a pitcher in the minor leagues this season. The curveball is a hard, low-80s offering with depth and good bite. Butler won’t be able to ignore it, as it is the only pitch that can be considered “soft” compared to the rest of the arsenal.

Lastly, there is Butler’s best secondary offering, an upper-80s changeup that grades out as double-plus due to its heavy action combined with strong pitchability. Butler is able to throw the changeup for quality strikes regardless of the situation in the game, and that will be key at the next level.

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Related Content:  Colorado Rockies,  Prospects,  Fantasy,  Eddie Butler

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<< Previous Article
Working the Count: Jos... (06/05)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Eugenio S... (06/05)
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