DOB: 03/13/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2012 (Samford)
ETA: Early 2014
Wiry frame at 6’2”, 180 pounds; still adding strength; three-quarters arm slot; good use of lower half driving toward the plate; crossfire delivery and long limbs create natural deception; delivery involves effort but he repeats it well; noticeable feel for mechanics; showcases a fast arm and smooth release; employs aggressive approach; simply knows how to get guys out.
Fastball is a present plus offering sitting consistently in the 93-96 mph range; tops out at 97-98; average command; features ridiculous movement with exceptional arm-side run and sink; attacks right-handed hitters with two-seamer, which is a legitimate bat-breaker and misser; turns to four-seamer when working up in the zone; also uses it to pound the inner half against left-handed hitters, which is impressive given the crossfire delivery.
Changeup has late, splitter-like tumble; present plus pitch thrown in the mid- to upper-80s; generates fade and sink that mirrors two-seam fastball; plus-plus potential; nearly identical release point and arm speed relative to heater; throws pitch with conviction against both right- and left-handed hitters; shows confidence in pitch, regardless of count.
Slider is an above-average offering in the 84-88 mph range; flashes plus potential; feel for adding and subtracting; features later and sharper bite when thrown toward high end of velocity range; adept at throwing it for a strike and burying it when ahead in the count; another potential swing-and-miss offering; mixes in a low-80s curveball to offer the hitter a different look; decent shape and depth; future solid-average pitch.
Butler’s three plus-or-better pitches allowed him to dominate at three levels in 2013, including a lights-out, six-start showing at Double-A to conclude the regular season. The 22-year-old’s stuff and command is nearly major-league ready, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he receives consideration for a spot in the Rockies’ Opening Day rotation. And if Butler opens the year in the minor leagues, then he should be among the first big-name prospects to reach the major leagues this season, possibly as early as May.
Projection: No. 2 or 3 starter
Video courtesy of Jason Cole