by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Jonathan Gray or Eddie Butler reached Colorado. Recently we learned that Butler would be the first to arrive onto the scene, making his Major League debut on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s certainly not an ideal matchup, but what should we expect from the 2012 first round pick moving forward?
At Double-A this season (11 starts) he owned a 2.49 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He also displayed solid control, with a 2.5 BB/9 (2.6 since being drafted). So far, so good, but then we look at the strikeouts and start to wonder. He owns a minor league career mark of 7.5, but that sat at just 5.2 this season. The split is even more curious:
- April – 7.18
- May – 3.62
It’s definitely a surprising drop, but the scouting reports prior to the season certainly support the higher marks. John Sickels of Minor League Ball (click here for his full Top 20 Rockies’ prospects) said:
“His fastball isn’t far off Gray’s and his secondary stuff is quite advanced, particularly the changeup.”
In regards to his actual stuff, MLB.com said:
“Butler throws his fastball in the mid-90s and can reach 99 mph. His wipeout slider is his best offspeed pitch, and his changeup and curveball give him a chance for four average-or-better offerings.”
While the May number appears to be the aberration, it’s still not like he’s going to suddenly transform into a strikeout machine. That simply may not be his game and we can’t expect it to develop in the Major Leagues.
The control is solid, at least this season, and he had shown groundball ability coming up through the minors. However, despite his 52.6% mark overall, he owns a 46.8% mark in 2014. Unlike the strikeouts, the split isn’t promising (48.4%/45.7%). If he’s not going to be generating groundballs at a better rate, especially pitching in Coors Field, home runs could easily start to become an issue.
Butler is widely considered one of the better pitching prospects in the game, but the 23-year old righty could face some growing pains along the way. His reduced strikeout rate at Double-A, coupled with the regression in his groundball ability and solid, though not elite, control could ultimately prove troublesome.
In keeper leagues he’s an intriguing name to watch, and stash, but in redraft formats there’s a lot of risk involved. Don’t be surprised to see him post a K/9 at or under 6.00 with an ERA north of 4.00 in 2014. Given the general inconsistency of rookie starters, he can likely be ignored.
Waiver Wire Guideline:
- 10 Team League – Ignore
- 12 Team League – Not worth the risk
- 14+ Team League – Worth considering, but only as a matchup play
- NL-Only League – Upside too good to ignore
- Keeper League – Worth Owning
Sources – Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, Minor League Ball, MLB.com