Right-handed pitcher Eddie Butler was invited to pitch in the Futures game on Sunday. Part of All-Star weekend, the Futures Game represents the brightest young stars in the minor leagues. Butler was designated to pitch the sixth inning for Team USA and faced the heart of the World team's order.
As Butler toed the mound, Boston Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts stepped into the box. The Red Sox shortstop was rated the No. 8 prospect in all of the minors by Baseball America prior to the season and had previously played in the 2012 Futures Game.
The Rockies prospect had no problem against Bogaerts, striking him out on three pitches. Eddie displayed his live arm on the first pitch with a 97-mile-per-hour fastball spotted down in the zone. His second pitch was a 88-MPH breaking ball that was followed by a pitch described by ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe:
"This was just an absolute filthy explosion on a 90-MPH changeup. It looked like a left-handed breaking ball it had so much late life to it."
The Virginia native followed up his strikeout with two strikes against one of the minors best power hitters Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins. Sano was rated the No. 9 overall prospect by Baseball America prior to the season. Butler ended up hitting Sano with a tailing changeup that brushed his jersey.
The final batter faced by Butler was Henry Urrutia of the Baltimore Orioles, who happens to share a birthday with me. He's a 26-year-old Cuban defector batting .367 in Triple-A Norfolk this year. Urrutia took three balls from Butler before grounding into an inning-ending double play.
Overall Eddie's performance was quite strong, topping out at 98 MPH and showing that he carries both strikeout and groundball pitches in his toolbox. ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Eddie Butler's performance on Twitter:
Law had more to say about Butler's performance in his Insider article today ($). Generally talking about the action on his pitches and one of his concerns was that Butler's velocity dipped to 94 when he was pitching from the stretch. He may have missed Butler's first pitch against Urrutia though, one that hit 98 from the stretch.
Butler was drafted out of Radford by the Rockies as supplemental first-rounder in the 2012 draft. The right-hander was a Pioneer League All-Star last season and began in Low-A Asheville before earning a promotion to High-A Modesto this season.