TCN 2014 Cardinals Prospect #35: Keith Butler

Now that the right-hander has reached the major leagues, will he continue to improve and remain?

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
40 RHR 1/30/1989 6-0 180 R R 2009 24th

School: Wabash Valley (IL) College

Selected 2013 stats

Spr 0 0 0.66 1.52 13 0 7 13.2 8 1 1 2 21 1.50 0.163 0.259
Mem 3 2 3.62 3.57 20 1 2 27.1 21 12 3 9 28 0.83 0.210 0.254
Total 3 2 2.63   33 1 9 41 29 13 4 11 49 0.97 0.195  
StL 0 0 4.05 3.25 16 0 0 20 13 9 0 11 16 0.42 0.181 0.228

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (44): Ranked by the community at #44 last year, Keith Butler was voted into the same spot by the community for 2014.

This past summer, Butler split time across three domestic levels. He started out the year in Springfield because of plentiful right-handed relief ahead of him. But his time at Springfield was quite brief as he pitched only 13 2/3 innings, before skipping Triple-A and making his MLB debut.

With St. Louis, Butler appeared in 16 games (20 IP), during which time he walked 11 and struck out 16. It should be noted that he was not one of the September call ups as his last major league appearance was a rough one on August 7th.

It was a long season which involved a ton of travel for the soon to be 25 year-old undersized righty. In his time with the parent club, Butler reportedly impressed manager Mike Matheny for several reasons. They include his competitive demeanor on the mound, low 90s fastball that he can sink with that low 3/4 arm angle, a plus change-up which has become his best offering recently, and slow sweeping slider that he has used less and less often.

Butler has proven that he can pitch at every level. All that remains is for him to continue to prove himself at the major league level if he wants to last and have a role. That is especially the case next year with bullpen spots open on the big league roster.

If he gets the opportunities and takes advantage of them, Butler profiles well as a Fernando Salas-type middle reliever. You cannot argue with his results in the minors. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (32): A year ago, the Cardinals organization weighed in on Butler's immediate future by adding him to their 40-man roster after the 2012 season. It did not take long for "the call" to come, as the Kentuckian made the leap directly from Double-A Springfield to St. Louis in time to make his MLB debut on June 1.

Though he was long gone by then, Texas League voters remembered Butler by recognizing him as a mid-season all-star for the second consecutive season. (The right-hander was also a post-season all-star in the Double-A league in 2012.)

Butler had several trials with St. Louis during 2013, but as noted above, he somewhat surprisingly did not receive a return call in September. My guess is that the 24-year-old would have been next on the list had an October pitching injury occurred.

Remembering that Butler spent most of the first two months of the season in Springfield and has just one year on the 40-man, I think he had a reasonable 2013. Still, the fact Butler was sent home in September indicates his tenuous standing in the ever-crowded reliever pecking order. To receive meaningful time in St. Louis again, he will need to continue to pitch well and be ready when an opening will almost surely again present itself.

Our 2014 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 the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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