Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The debut of Billy Butler

Yes! Finally!
Time for a baseball card update
Billy Butler, who's been destroying Triple A competition (you can track the progress of he and other Royals minor league players in this excellent blog, The Pipeline), had his 10-game hit streak snapped two days ago, but that was in part because he decided to draw three walks. Yesterday, he played his final game (hopefully) in an Omaha Royals uniform, going 1-for-3 with another walk. That's because the kid -- the 2005 Royals Minor League Player of the Year and former Team USA teammate of Alex Gordon -- finally got his call-up.

According to Megan Stock:

In 25 games with Triple-A Omaha, Butler batted .337 (30-80) with 19 runs scored, four doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI. He collected 18 walks, while striking out just 12 times. Before Butler got the call up, which he celebrated this morning by calling Wichita pal Alex Gordon, the Royals placed Ryan Shealy on the D.L. - he pulled his hamstring in Monday night’s game – and also brought up left-hander Neal Musser, while sending right-hander Ryan Braun down to Omaha in a corresponding move.

This is reason for minor celebration... set aside the Boulevard Wheat and go for the imports tonight, guys and gals, cause reinforcements have arrived.

Butler will bat seventh, offering Gordon some much-needed protection in the lineup. (Just nod, please.) He'll be setting the table for John Buck, whose newfound RBI opportunities will make him a happy man indeed.

Baseball Prospectus projects Butler to hit .294 with 15 HRs and 76 RBIs, though the best-case scenario has him at .330/.390/.543 with 24 HRs, 95 RBIs and 54 walks. They also have this to say:

The best teenage hitter in a Royals uniform since Clint Hurdle, Butler's numbers are not a park illusion; he actually hit better on the road than at High Desert. Defensively, Butler may one day owe more career earnings to the invention of the DH slot than any other player. His fielding percentage at third base last season was .842, so he moved to left field at midseason. One scout said Butler was the worst defensive outfielder he'd ever seen. The Royals have enough players at the wrong end of the defensive spectrum already, but Butler is the guy you move everyone else to accommodate. In a different organization, he'd be a front-runner for Rookie of the Year honors in 2007. In Kansas City, he'll probably be in the starting lineup by May.

How did they know?

(By the way, Butler's three closest comps, according to BP, are Vernon Wells, Michael Restovich and Albert Pujols. Just thought I'd throw that out there.)

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