It was a long shot that either Jon Gray or Eddie Butler would make the Rockies out of spring training as Non-Roster Invitees, despite the buzz they'd been generating both in prospect lists and in spring action. Today's demotion of both players to minor league camp made it official though, as both pitchers will head to the minors to begin 2014.
Gray, ranked 12th overall on both Baseball America's and Keith Law's top 100 prospects lists, was Colorado's first round draft pick (3rd overall) in last June's draft. Over two levels and 37 innings pitched last season in the minors, Gray displayed the 100 MPH heat, nasty slider, and filthy change-up that got him picked so high - finishing with a 1.93 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 13.5 K/9 rate. This spring in big league camp he appeared in three games, throwing 6 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out five and walking two. The 22 year-old Gray will likely start the season in AA Tulsa.
Butler, ranked 24th by Baseball America and 17th by Law, dominated across three minor league levels last year. The 23 year-old threw 149 innings of 1.80 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 ball at Low A Asheville, High A Modesto, and AA Tulsa. In addition to that, he threw this filthy sequence of pitches to strike out top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts at last year's MLB Futures Game, in which Butler's three pitch arsenal was on full display. This spring, Butler threw seven innings in big league camp, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out one and walking three. Like Gray, Butler will probably start the year in AA Tulsa, though a start in AAA Colorado Springs is not out of the question.
Stay tuned for future roster moves as Colorado's 25 man Opening Day roster develops!