Butler, taken 46th overall in the 2012 draft out of Radford, had a 1.66 ERA over nine starts and 54⅓ innings for the Asheville Tourists. One of his better outings came against the Augusta GreenJackets on May 7, allowing just one hit over six innings, walking five and striking out five.
Butler is ranked sixth in the Rockies system by Baseball America, and he should easily find himself in the top five by next season. He has a hard, sinking fastball in the mid-90s. He allowed just one fly ball over the six innings at Augusta.
His secondaries lag a tick behind the fastball, but he has a solid slider and can change the pace. His changeup is the key to his upper-level success as a starter, and he flashed a couple that were solid pitches during his Augusta start.
“That’s the main thing I throw is my sinker,” said Butler after his May 7 start. “That’s the big reason why I was picked up by the Rockies, where I was picked up at, because that sinker can get a lot of ground balls, which works out well at high elevation.”
Butler isn’t the biggest guy weight or muscle wise, and he has long arm action, but his commmand profile is outstanding for the stuff he has. Because of his body and delivery, there will be durability concerns, but things have been smooth so far.
LEFTY RETURNS: Miami Marlins left-hander Andrew Heaney, drafted 12th overall in 2012 out of Oklahoma State, returned from a lat strain suffered during spring training to make his season debut May 20.
Heaney allowed one unearned run on four hits over 4⅓ innings for the Advanced-A Jupiter Hammerheads, walking two and striking out nine against the Daytona Cubs.
Heaney suffered the strain during a simulated game in the spring, and it held him out of live action through April. He made six starts between the Gulf Coast League and South Atlantic League to end his 2012 season after going down to the signing deadline with the Marlins. He eventually signed for $2.6 million and recorded a 4.33 ERA with 30 strikeouts to six walks in 27 innings.
Muscle strains shouldn’t be too surprising for Heaney, who is a lanky 6-foot-3. He reportedly put on muscle over the winter, as well as worked on improving his in-delivery tempo.
Heaney works in the low-90s with a solid fastball that he spots to both sides of the plate. He has a solid slider in the mid-80s with late break. His changeup is still developing, but the arm action and follow-through have improved already.
He is ranked third in the Marlins system by Baseball America.
Heaney has a good arm and throws with little effort. Combine this with solid command, and the college left-hander should move quickly through the Marlins system. If he stays healthy, he should reach Miami in the next year or two.