One area where the New York Mets do need some help in their minor league system is the development of starting pitching prospects. The graduation of Tylor Megill and David Peterson to the major leagues has really thinned the crop of potential arms who can help the big league roster, especially with Matthew Allan’s development delayed due to Tommy John surgery and the organization’s decision not to sign first-round pick Kumar Rocker over medical concerns. There will be opportunities for other prospects to step up and fill those voids. One guy who has is righty Jose Butto, who is the focus of this week’s edition of Minor League Mondays.
An international free agent signing in 2017, Butto wasn’t given a ton of hype as he moved through the Mets farm system. Butto did turn heads with strong showings in 2018 and 2019 before the pandemic scuttled minor league baseball a year ago. The Mets assigned Butto to High-A Brooklyn to start the season and he pitched solidly there, earning a promotion to AA Binghamton. The move to the Rumble Ponies has agreed with Butto, who is 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his first seven starts for Binghamton, racking up an outstanding 47:8 strikeout to walk ratio in 37.1 innings pitched.
Butto’s best pitch is his changeup, which he delivers with the same motion as his fastball only for it to have about 10-11 miles per hour of separation in terms of velocity. That pitch has been a swing-and-miss pitch for Butto, who also features both a four-seam and two-seam fastball with the ability to touch 96 miles per hour. The key to whether Butto can last as a starting pitcher at the big league level will be seeing if his curveball can develop into an above-average offering, which is currently a work in progress.
The good news is that Butto’s solid fastball/changeup combination has given him a nice floor as a reliever. That work will probably be more middle relief since Butto doesn’t have the elite fastball most closers possess but he should be more than capable of getting big-league hitters out. The Mets will likely start Butto at Binghamton again next season with a potential promotion to Syracuse in line for mid-season. Butto could be a factor for the Mets as soon as next season so it will simply be a matter of identifying what role he is best suited for in Flushing.