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Rockies Prospects: Colorado bucks tradition by promoting Eddie Butler to High-A Modesto

After a strong campaign in Low-A Asheville, Butler has earned a promotion and will start on Saturday for High-A Modesto. Josh Rutledge was demoted to Triple-A where he can use the opportunity to work on his defense.

Eddie Butler
Eddie Butler
by Charlie Drysdale

The biggest news of the week was the promotion of starter Eddie Butler to High-A Modesto. Last summer Butler told me his goal was to play in Modesto this year, something he restated to me in Spring Training. I thought it was an aggressive ambition, considering the Rockies like to drag their feet when it comes to pitchers being advanced in the A-Ball ranks. For instance, both Tyler Anderson and Tyler Matzek were kept in Asheville for a full season before being promoted to Modesto the following year.

Eddie Butler Warming Up

However, since the addition of Jeff Bridich to the Rockies front office, the organization has been more aggressive in promoting experienced players. For instance, closer Scott Oberg is pitching in High-A Modesto this year after playing 2012 at rookie-level Grand Junction. Outfielder Corey Dickerson was promoted to Double-A Tulsa halfway through last season, and then later Rafael Ortega received a cup of coffee promotion to the big leagues after playing the year in High-A Modesto.

With those recent promotions in mind, it's suddenly not so ambitious to see Butler moved up. He's certainly produced at every level since being drafted by the Rockies.

Butler was drafted with the 46th pick in the supplemental portion of the first round of the 2012 draft. He led the Pioneer League last season with a 2.13 ERA and was named to the league's all-star team. This year Butler was producing at an even better pace with a 1.66 ERA in 54.1 innings. Butler leads all of the 2012 drafted starters in groundball percentage this year and has maintained a solid strikeout rate.

Eddie is scheduled to start for Modesto in Lake Elsinore on Saturday. Elsinore plays a lot like Petco, with an evening marine layer that suppresses hard hit balls. The stadium is also large in the outfield with a 30-foot wall in right field, so it's an ideal place for Butler to begin working in the California league.

Now that Butler is in Modesto, he's one step closer to the Major Leagues. This promotion ensures an invitation to big league camp in spring training and gives him an outside chance at a September callup to the Rockies when rosters expand. Butler's repertoire of a strong sinking fastball in the upper 90's would fit nicely as a reliever in his current development. The next step is to see if he can maintain his strikeout rates and continue to go deep into games which would cement his starter ceiling.













Eddie Butler












In other transaction news Josh Rutledge was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs this week. It's hard to fault the Rockies on this move because D.J. LeMahieu is thumping a .412 average since his callup and was previously hitting .364 in Triple-A Colorado Springs. Josh was struggling at the plate with a .242/.298/.357, but was also struggling defensively at second base.

Defensively is where Josh could really make the biggest strides while in Colorado Springs. Prior to his 2012 callup, he had played only 22 minor league games at the position and primarily lined up at shortstop. It's hard to digest a new position while learning how to hit against major league pitchers.

Focusing primarily on second base will give Josh a chance to stabilize one part of his game, which will then allow him to highlight his strengths of squaring up the ball and speed on the basepaths. This demotion will allow Rutledge to become stronger and come back a better player.

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