Guess Jose Butto Was A Real Prospect After All
In 2022, Jose Butto was pressed into action by the New York Mets, and the results weren’t good to say the least. In his one start, he allowed seven runs in four innings against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The start generated a number of reactions from fans. For the most part, the general reaction from Mets fans was that Butto was not a real prospect, and he was never going to make it.
Now, Butto seemed to solidify the case of the naysayers while pitching with Triple-A Syracuse this season. Over 19 starts, he was 3-7 with a 5.93 ERA. One of the key reasons was his 4.8 BB/9 and his inability to develop a third pitch.
However, something funny happened with Butto. With the trades of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander along with the season (perhaps career) ending injury to Carlos Carrasco, Butto was pressed into action.
While Butto’s stats didn’t merit the opportunity, he got the opportunity because this was a lost season for the Mets. In many ways, it was for him as well. However, now, you cannot say the same for Butto. He got his chance, and he has put himself into the conversation for 2024.
Over his past three starts, Butto has pitched very well. While you may want to discount the start against the also ran Washington Nationals, the recent starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins deserve real attention with both teams fighting tooth-and-nail for the Wild Card.
He earned his first career win limiting the Diamondbacks to one run over five innings. He followed that up with an even more impressive performance. He struck out seven Marlins while limiting them one run over six innings.
Suddenly, there is talk about Butto being a part of the Mets rotation in 2024, or more likely, his being a part of the pitching staff.
What we are learning is his fastball/change-up will play at the Major League level. That combination was what powered a strong 2021 season, had him added to the 40 man roster (to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft), and put him on the Mets top prospect lists.
Now, that isn’t generating a big strikeout rate, but it is helping him avoid barrels. He’s holding opposing batters to a .274 SLG. Part of the reason is he has a high spin rate on his fastball. Another factor at play is his work with Jeremy Hefner, who has helped pitchers with similar stuff succeed with both the Mets and Minnesota Twins.
Now, there is nothing to say that Butto can repeat this success next year or even the rest of this season. Moreover, there is still a real question whether Butto can stick in the rotation or would need to move to the bullpen at the Major League level.
What we can say is the belief Butto was a prospect who could succeed in the majors was not in error. We are now seeing it. Having now seen it, we should be mindful that prospects take time and sometimes need to be beaten up and demoted before they succeed. That is true for Butto, and it will be true for many prospects which come after him.