Jose Butto impresses in spring debut

Feb 23, 2023; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA;  New York Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto (70) poses for a
Feb 23, 2023; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto (70) poses for a / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets have done well to stockpile a bevy of position player prospects who could make an impact at the Major League level in 2023. But for as much as has been made about the likes of Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, Mark Vientos and others, the pitchers in the Mets’ farm system are still somewhat of a question in terms of what they’ll produce at the big league level. 

The Mets drafted Blake Tidwell last year in the 2nd round and Matt Allan has as much upside as any prospect but has been plagued by major injuries and as a result, there’s a bunch of pitching prospects in the farm system that the front office is looking to to take a step forward and contribute in the future. 

Enter Jose Butto.

Mets pitching prospect Jose Butto made a strong first impression in Saturday's start

The 24-year old right hander was ranked the 15th best prospect in the Mets’ system by and 18th overall by Baseball America, but has always possessed the raw stuff to get big league hitters out. Signed out of Venezuela at 19 years old in 2017, Butto compiled 129 innings, 138 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA. Featuring a mid-90s fastball, Butto’s effectiveness comes from a 60-graded changeup, which is easily his best pitch. He rounds out the rest of his repertoire with a curveball and slider, both which are both graded at the lower end of the scale. 

Butto moved rapidly through the farm as he was in Double-A in 2021, Triple-A in 2022, while getting a spot start in August of last year in Philadelphia, which turned out to be one of the games of the year for the Mets. While he was roughed up to the tune of seven earned runs over four innings, Butto was by no means written off and has a chance to find himself back with the Major League team in 2023. 

In the first broadcasted Spring Training game, Butto got the start against the Miami Marlins and pitched well, albeit not very economical as he lasted only 1.2 innings, but that didn’t take away from how good his stuff looked. You can argue that he got squeezed against Met-pest Jon Berti to leadoff the game, but he flashed a brand new cutter that was added to his pitch arsenal this winter. The cutter was whiffed on both times it was swung at and he racked up eight total swings-and-misses (44% whiff rate). 

Butto will start the year in Triple-A, but for a team that is looking for arms in their system to take some strides forward, he’s someone that Mets fans should be keeping an eye on this winter.

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