Name: Jose Butto
Weight: 200 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, June 2, 2017 (Cumana, Venezuela)
2022 Stats: 28 G (25 GS), 129.0 IP, 112 H, 54 R, 51 ER (3.56 ERA), 44 BB, 138 K, .297 BABIP (Double-A/Triple-A)
Born in Cumana, Venezuela, Jose Butto was signed by the Mets in June 2017 for just $5,000, a 19-year-old who agreed to terms with a club just prior to the end of the 2016-2017 international free agent signing period and the beginning of the 2017-2018 period. He made his professional debut with the DSL Mets that year and posted a 1.44 ERA in 50.0 innings, allowing 48 hits, walking 9, and striking out 41. In 2018, he was assigned to the Kingsport Mets when their season began and pitched 32.2 innings there in six starts, posting a 1.93 ERA. At the end of July, he was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he remained for the rest of the season. In Coney Island, he posted a 6.11 ERA in 28.0 innings, allowing 31 hits, walking 11, and striking out 24. He was promoted to the Columbia Fireflies in 2019 and spent the entire season there, posting a 3.62 ERA in 112.0 innings, allowing 100 hits, walking 31, and striking out 109.
He returned to Brooklyn in 2021, now the Mets’ High-A affiliate, and posted a 4.32 ERA in 58.1 innings, allowing 51 hits, walking 15, and striking out 60. His work with the Cyclones was solid enough and earned him a promotion to Double-A Binghamton in late July. He benefitted from the move, posting a 3.12 ERA in 40.1 innings, allowing 33 hits, walking 9, and striking out 50. All in all, he posted a 3.83 ERA in 98.2 total innings in 2021, allowing 84 hits, walking 24, and striking out 110. He started the 2022 season with Binghamton and posted an even 4.00 ERA in 92.1 innings before getting promoted to Triple-A Syracuse in the beginning of August. After making a pair of starts, he was called up to the major league roster to pitch as a spot starter against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 21 due to injuries to Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. The right-hander did not fare well, giving up seven earned runs in four innings, and was optioned back down to Syracuse for the remainder of the season and wrapped up the year strong. All in all, he posted a 3.56 ERA in 129.0 innings with Binghamton and Syracuse with 112 hits allowed, 44 walks, and 138 strikeouts.
The 6’1”, 200 lb. Butto throws from a low three-quarters arm slot, dropping and driving off the mound. His mechanics are smooth and repeatable, allowing Butto to pound all four quadrants of the zone and hit his spots. Butto is more control over command, not always hitting his spots perfectly but generally locating well enough. For his career in the minor leagues since coming stateside, he has walked 121 in 400.1 innings.
Earlier in his career, Butto’s fastball sat in the high-80s-to-low-90s, but since 2021, he added muscle mass to his frame and increased the velocity of the pitch, now sitting in the mid-90s. The pitch is not overpowering, nor does it have much movement, so it does not miss many bats and gets hit hard when he throws it in the zone
His go-to secondary is his changeup, one of the better ones currently in the Mets minor league system, if not the best. The pitch sits in the low-to-mid-80s, which gives it roughly 10 MPH of velocity differential between it and his fastball, and features late, tumbling action. The pitch tunnels well with his fastball, and Butto is able to command it well, throwing it for strikes down in and under the zone, making it an even more effective offering. The pitch is a true weapon against left-handers, but as good as it is, has been only mildly effective against right-handers, which is why developing his curveball further will be key to his future success important. That pitch currently sits in the high-70s-to-low-80s and features slight 12-6 break when he has a good feel for it or looser, slurvier break when he does not. The right-hander generally throws his fastball 50% of the time, followed by his curveball and changeup, saving his best pitch for strikeouts.
Since adding a few more miles per hour on his fastball velocity and improving his changeup, Jose Butto has gotten a fair amount of helium, but a casual look under the hood showed major red flags. Sure enough, in his cup of coffee against the Phillies last year, he got rocked. There is stuff to like however, and as Seth Lugo demonstrated, a marginal minor league starting pitcher can turn into a serviceable major leaguer on the strength of one of two pitches, so I hold out hope that Butto might one day maybe carve out a similar kind of career.
Butto is a functional upper-minors depth arm that works well as an 9th or 10th starter but is not someone you want as a 6th or 7th starter. The Mets have thankfully added enough that he’s now the former rather than the latter. He’ll still likely get 2023 innings, never fear, and maybe something clicks. As is, he’s a very boring but necessary depth arm.
Butto made his big league debut in 2022, contributing four innings in a single spot start. The start didn’t go well, but just reaching the big leagues is an enormous achievement and massive success for a pitcher who signed with the team for just $5,000.00 in 2017. While Butto has primarily been a starter throughout his minor league career, it may soon be time for a move to the bullpen, where he won’t have to throw his breaking ball as much and can let his excellent change-up take center stage.
The proud owner of one MLB start (a game the Mets won!) Jose Butto will provide valuable starting pitching depth in case of injury. His scouting report is what it’s always been: the changeup is really good, the rest of the pitches lag behind, and it gives him a ceiling. Maybe he shifts to the bullpen at some point, but otherwise he’s going to provide help in case of injuries.