Top Prospect #19: RHP Francisco Butto

Francisco Butto

The Phillies have done well finding high quality players from Venezuela. Of course, Bobby Abreu is the standout, but there are others working their way through the ranks. One of the best is Francisco Butto. The young right-hander is set for a season at Clearwater in 2004 and is coming off an impressive winter league season.

Francisco Butto - who turns 22 in May – spent his first couple of seasons learning his trade in the Venezuelan Summer League before coming to the states to continue his journey toward the majors. Butto credits those two seasons with giving him a chance to fit in better when he did make it to the US. Pitching in front of his family and friends in his native Venezuela before moving along meant that Butto needed only to adjust to the rigors of professional baseball and not adjusting to an entirely different culture where he would be alone.

 

By the time Butto's second season in the VSL was finished, the Phillies knew it was time to bring him to the states. In his two seasons in Venezuela, Butto went 9-5, 3.06 for the Phillies. His second season also saw him improve his control greatly. After allowing 32 walks in 47.1 innings in his first season, Butto was a control machine in his second go-round. In 2000, he allowed just 26 walks in in 61.2 innings and struck out 76 hitters.

 

The Phillies worked with Butto in extended spring training in 2001 before placing him in the Gulf Coast League. While his first season was solid, the Phillies were cautious with Butto and had him repeat the GCL in 2002. For 2003, Butto got his first full minor league season in the states when he pitched at Lakewood, going 10-12, 3.03.

 

Butto's development continued a familiar routine. In his first season in the VSL, he worked primarily as a reliever before switching to the rotation for his second season. The same pattern worked in the GCL. At Lakewood, Butto was almost exclusively a starter and the Phillies figure to keep him in that job.

 

Over the winter, Butto pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League. There, his team – the Aragua Tigres – used him in a relief role. In 28 games, Butto 6-1, 0.96 with 8 saves. There may be some temptation to use him in relief, but the Phillies believe that in the long run, Butto will have a more productive career as a starter. As with most young pitchers though, an experience out of the bullpen won't hurt, especially since Butto doesn't have the talent that many of the Phillies pitching prospects ahead of him have.

 

Francisco Butto's Career Stats

 

Year/Team

W

L

ERA

SV

G

GS

IP

H/9 IP

BB/9 IP

KO/9 IP

1999 La Victoria

(VSL)

5

2

4.37

1

15

4

47.1

8.0

6.1

8.2

2000 La Victoria

(VSL)

4

3

2.04

1

14

9

61.2

5.7

3.8

11.1

2001 GCL

(Rookie)

2

3

2.42

2

15

0

26.0

7.6

4.2

6.9

2002 GCL

(Rookie)

7

2

2.31

1

12

9

62.1

5.3

2.9

7.5

2003 Lakewood

(Low A)

10

12

3.03

0

27

25

148.2

8.1

3.6

6.3

Career Totals

28

22

2.86

5

83

47

346.0

7.1

3.9

7.7

 

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