Week: 6 G, 26 AB, 9 AB, .346/.452/.846, 9 H, 4 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 3 BB, 11 K, 0/0 SB (Triple-A)
2022 Season: 42 G, 151 AB, .225/.343/.397, 34 H, 12 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 20 BB, 60 K, 9/13 SB, .345 BABIP (Single-A/Triple-A)
On February 10, 2021, Khalil Lee was sent to the Mets in a complicated three-team trade between Kansas City, New York, and Boston. After going 0-16 in spring training, he was optioned to the Syracuse Mets, but got his first major league call up not long after. The Mets’ injury situation at the time prompted Lee to get a lot of playing time, but he unfortunately did not make the best of his time in Queens. Before the Mets sent him back down to Syracuse on June 1, Lee went 1-18 in 11 games, striking out 13 times. His failure seemingly lit a fire in him, as he hit .275/.449/.511 with 14 home runs, 7 stolen bases in 15 attempts, and a 66:109 walk:strikeout ratio in Triple-A following the demotion.
Despite having success in Triple-A last season, Lee started the year as cold as cold can be. In 15 games in April, Lee hit .122/.271/.143 with a single extra base hit. Was it the lockout, which impacted him since he was on the Mets’ 40-man roster? Was it disappointment from not making the major league roster and being optioned to the minor leagues so quickly? Was he dealing with an undisclosed injury? Was it something else completely?
On May 12, Lee was assigned from Triple-A Syracuse to Single-A St. Lucie. Again, the reason is not very clear. I feel like it is because the facilities in St. Lucie are better equipped to analyze just what exactly was going wrong with Lee, but that is just conjecture. The demotion seemed to light a fire in Lee, as he hit an improved .241/.371/.414 during his time in Florida, and then .333/.429/.708 since being promoted back to Syracuse on May 24.
I don’t know what to make of it all either.
Week: 1 G (1 GS), 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 11 K (Double-A)
Season: 10 G (10 GS), 42.0 IP, 37 H, 20 R, 18 ER (3.86 ERA), 17 BB, 58 K, .327 BABIP (Double-A)
Since the first week of the season, when Butto was our inaugural 2022 Pitcher of the Week, the right-hander has had some ups and downs. In 18.0 innings in April, he allowed 6 earned runs (3.00 ERA) on 14 hits and 6 walks while striking out 26. In 18.0 innings in May, he allowed 10 earned runs (5.00 ERA) on 20 hits and 8 walks while striking out 21. Batters hit .209/.284/.373 against him in April and .274/.377/.397 against him in May.
For all intents and purposes, Butto is a two-pitch pitcher- his weak, floaty curve isn’t much more than a get-me-over offering. His fastball is more or less an average pitch and his changeup an above-average pitch. Butto unfortunately will always walk a metaphorical tightrope, as the strength of one pitch is directly dependent on the strength of the other. If he has a feel for his fastball and changeup on any given nights, you will have good nights- especially at the Double-A level. If he has the feel for one but not the other, his effectiveness will be severely limited, and batters will know to lay off of and what to sit on.
Minor league batters are often adjusting the second third time through the lineup- over the first three innings in all of his starts in 2022, the right-hander has allowed 7 earned runs on 19 hits over 27.2 innings. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth combined, he has allowed 11 earned runs in 18 hits over 15.1 innings. The fifth inning has generally been his worst- coincidentally or not, generally the second time you face the heart of the opposing lineup- and Butto has allowed 9 earned runs on 10 hits in 5.0 total innings in the fifth.
Without the development of a better breaking ball, the right-hander profiles better as a reliever at the major league level, should he ever get the call. Given that this has been the MO for Butto going back years now- solid fastball, great changeup, poor curveball- the odds of this happening are slim.