POSITION: Right-handed relief pitcher
BORN ON: April 24, 1986
AGE: Turns 22 in April
BORN IN: Riverdale, Georgia
LIVES IN: Sharpsburg, Georgia
WEIGHT: 190 pounds
SCHOOL: Auburn University
ACQUIRED: Selected by the Braves in the 19th round of the 2007 amateur draft
SIGNED BY: Al Goetz
STATISTICSClick here for Butts' 2007 minor league stats
SCOUTING REPORTBrett Butts had a solid 2007 season as the Auburn closer. In 26 games Butts was 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA, 47 hits allowed in 54 innings, 23 walks, 54 strikeouts, and six saves. The Braves then selected Butts, the nephew of Atlanta bullpen catcher Alan Butts, in the 19th round.
The Braves gave Butts a little time off and then sent him first to Danville. The Appy League proved to be no test for the right-hander as Butts allowed only one earned run in 12.1 innings in five games. He walked three and struck out 12, and then the Braves sent Butts to Rome. There was a little adversity there (3.47 ERA in nine games), but Butts still showed enough for the Braves to ship him up to Myrtle Beach to end the season.
Butts pitched in two games with the Pelicans and allowed two earned runs in 5.2 innings. Overall in his first taste of pro baseball Butts was 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA in sixteen games, 36 hits allowed in 41.1 innings, 12 earned runs, nine walks, and 30 strikeouts.
Butts has a quality fastball and curveball. He can command the breaking ball for a strike and he locates his fastball very well. Butts also showed that he can command a changeup. Sometimes he'd get in trouble using his curveball a bti too much. But he's got quality major league caliber pitches that could take him a long way. His nice assortment of three pitches even had some coaches wondering if he could be a starting pitcher.
But the Braves love his makeup as a closer. While they may be tempted to have Butts in a rotation, they know he's got the mentality to pitch effectively out of the bullpen.
Braves' coaches were thrilled with the selection of Butts, as the Braves continued the trend of stocking the farm system with college relief pitchers. Butts' early success showed that he might jump through the system quickly if he continues on this track.
2008 OUTLOOKThe Braves might challenge Butts and send him back to Myrtle Beach to start the season. Even though it was only two games, Butts did not seem overmatched or intimidated by the Carolina League late last season. So if the Auburn Tiger has a good month of March, he could easily bypass Rome and head right back to South Carolina. The Braves are interested to see what Butts can do over the course of a full season.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINKSClick here for Butts' Auburn Bio Page
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.