Baseball Prospectus | Spring Training Notebook: Cactus League
Jordan Gorosh seems to have pinpointed the issue behind Eddie Butler's struggles when he has them. The good news is that it's fixable:
"When located down in the zone, his offerings are crisp and have superb life. All three flash plus, and while their current utility is not up to that level, it’s something that will come with improved purpose and sequencing. For instance, Butler worked himself into a two-strike count on Daniel Palka by getting the youngster to swing through two high fastballs. Palka, a low-minors slugger, drops his hands and cannot hit anything above the belt buckle—a good matchup for Butler as he was elevating. Instead of going back to the well for strike three, he got cute and threw a changeup, which is the only pitch Palka could handle, leading to hard contact. It's not a question about his stuff at this point—there's no doubt the right-hander is major-league quality in that regard. Refinement will come with repetition, some failure, and the ability to keep the ball down. Butler still has a middle of the rotation ceiling, although it may take a bit longer than originally expected for him to get there."
The Rockies must recognize this, and coach Butler through it, at Triple-A this season. This is where having developmental supervisors at each level, as well as a whole department dedicated to pitching, can help. At the same time, Butler might benefit most from working with a solid veteran catcher like Nick Hundley, who can help him make the best use of his impressive repertoire of pitches.
Either way, this was a great job of scouting and analysis from Gorosh, and it gives us something to keep an eye in the remainder of Butler's spring training appearances.
Baseball Prospectus | Moonshot: Prospect Trajectory as Data
Great stuff from the incomparable Robert Arthur, who tackles the subject of what we should look for to determine if a prospect will pan out or not:
"Overall, this information suggests we ought to pay a little more attention to the direction of a prospect’s rank, and not only their single-year outcome. When we see the same names ascending the lists, year upon year, that’s an affirmative signal for their future potential. Conversely, the first hint of decline from a top prospect ought to be troubling."
Corey Dickerson is the real deal - Beyond the Box Score
We all know that Corey Dickerson can hit. As do the Rockies, and particularly, manager Walt Weiss. Everyone else is beginning to recognize it, too.
CarGo to weigh options when facing shifts | rockies.com
Carlos Gonzalez has a plan for how he wants to attack shifting teams, Thomas Harding writes. It all starts with him being healthy and consistent at the plate, but there's other good stuff in here, too.
Rafael Betancourt makes pitch for Rockies bullpen comeback - The Denver Post
Betancourt braved the awful bus trips through the Rocky Mountain region knowing that he'd eventually get back to this point: battling for a big league bullpen spot in spring training.
The 39-year-old right-hander is working in the low 90s with his fastball, which is plenty effective enough when combined with his slow, deliberate delivery that makes the pitch look about 5 mph faster. The real key for Betancourt is command. If he can paint the black -- and get some questionable called strikes just off of it -- like he used to, he can and should pitch out of the team's bullpen at some point this season.
Adam Ottavino on his Three-in-One Slider | FanGraphs Baseball
Last but not least, the Rockies' best reliever from a year ago provides insight to David Laurila about how he goes about pitching.
This is just awesome work on the part of Laurila, putting us inside the head of one of baseball's smartest pitchers. Ottavino is keenly aware of all the tools at his disposal, but unlike a lot of other big leaguers, he chooses to use them both for validation and for learning.
Anyway, this is a must read. Get on it.