TCN 2013 Cardinals Prospect #40: Keith Butler

Springfield's closer parlayed a successful season into a spot on the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster and a berth in our 2013 top 40. The first article in our annual countdown is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
38 RHR 1/30/1989 6-0 180 R R 2009 24th

School: Wabash Valley (IL) College

Selected 2012 stats

SPR 5 1 2.76 3.58 53 0 25 58.2 53 22 5 23 59 0.63 0.242 0.302

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (34): Butler has succeeded everywhere he has pitched as a professional. I have some concern that he was more hittable this year at Springfield than in the past - but who isn't more hittable in the Texas League? Despite that, his K rates remained high and his ERA low.

I expect Butler to be the closer in Triple-A next year despite several higher profile relievers being there. I am a little leery of pitchers who rely too heavily on their slider due to injury and Butler fits that bill - but you can't argue with the results so far in his young career.

Message board community (44): The soon-to-be 24-year-old was placed on the 40-man roster, which is pretty high praise given the current organizational depth.

Though somewhat undersized and not having a high-octane arm, Butler has racked up 215 strikeouts in just 171 professional innings, to go along with an exceptional 2.21 ERA. Keith's out pitch is a slo-mo slider at 72-75 mph, which he will throw to any hitter, in any count.

Even with a mere 89-92 mph fastball, Butler's slippery slider may be enough to get the 24th-rounder to the majors as a Fernando Salas-type middle reliever. It's certainly impossible to argue with his results so far. - BobReed

Brian Walton (39): At number 39, my ranking falls right in the middle of the voters. I have to admit that the Cardinals organization adding Butler to their 40-man roster after the season both surprised me a bit and influenced my ranking.

Texas League voters respected Butler, recognizing him as both a mid- and post-season all-star. I respect Butler's results, too, which included just one blown save in 30 opportunities between the regular and post-season, yet his appearances were sometimes an adventure. His ERA was 2.76, but his FIP was over three-quarters of a run higher at 3.58.

I asked one organization official why Butler remained as Springfield's primary ninth-inning option despite more prototypical upper 90's mph-throwing closer types on the Double-A roster. The answer was simple – "Don't mess with success."

Yet a new season in 2013 means new competition for jobs at the next level up. As the pyramid narrows, I predict Butler's days closing may be over. Still, I can see him reaching the majors, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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