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No. 4 – Tony Butler, LHP

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 17, 2007

Since 1998 the Seattle Mariners have been perusing the talent in the game of baseball, actively searching for left-handed pitching.

They’ve signed a few, traded for a couple and selected a number of them every June. But until round three of this past year’s draft, there hasn’t been such a promising southpaw since Ryan Anderson was taken in the first round nearly 10 years ago.

Tony Butler could very well be part of the resurgence of your Seattle Mariners, barring a miracle that the return to prominence occurs sooner.

With a plus fastball and curve and great makeup, the 19-year-old is an improved changeup away from being the next all-star quality starter in Mariners blue.

Strengths: Butler is able to create a leverage advantage with all of his pitches, and has shown the ability to induce ground balls as a result. He’s also got a lot of confidence to go with a strong work ethic and tons of projectability – one of the main reasons the M’s took a shot at him in the third round.

His velocity jumped markedly late in his prep season last spring and while many clubs had given up on him as an early pick, the Mariners stayed with him and it may pay off.

Butler’s considered to be a solid young man and his acumen for learning receives top grades by all accounts – inside and outside the Mariners organization. His performance in Everett last summer has many scouts saying the M’s got the steal of the round, if not the entire draft.

Weaknesses: Butler has a few flaws in his mechanics that the club sees as “necessary to fix” but none are supposedly career breakers by any means. The 19-year-old left-hander is about average at holding runners at this stage of his career but fields his position at an above-average level.

He tends to become predictable with his pitch selection, though that surely didn’t show up in the results last season, and will need to learn better sequential schemes to succeed in the upper levels of the minors.

AGE HEIGHT WEIGHT BATS THROWS ACQUIRED
19 6-7 210
Left Left Draft, 2006 – 3rd Round
YEAR TEAM LEVEL G IP ERA HR/9 BB/9 K/9 AVG SLGA OPS OPS* BABIP*
2006 Peoria R 5 14 2.57 0.00 5.79 16.07 .116 .186 .482 .482 .278
2006 Everett SS 9 42.1 2.76 0.43 5.31 11.06 .160 .236 .523 .503 .233

Tools –

Fastball: Butler was scouted as a mid-round pick as the season began last spring while he sat in the 87-90 range with his fastball. About halfway through his senior season he began to reach back for more, and more is what he got. He often touched 93 with a four-seamer, and that trend continued as a pro.

Butler gets good downward plane on his 90-93 mph heater, and while its horizontal movement is about average, it’s still a plus pitch due to the improved velocity and vertical action.

His fastball command needs improvement, but that will come with repetition and proper coaching.
Grade: 60/65

Curve: Butler’s out pitch is his 1-7 curve ball that he has loads of confidence throwing in any count. Even 3-0, Butler has shaken off his catcher to get the old No. 2, wound up and fired in a low-80s yacker that can buckle the knees of a left-handed bat and force a righty to give up early and regret it dearly.

He overused the pitch at times and the club asked him to back off the pitch late last year to save some torque on his young elbow, which forced/allowed him to use his third pitch more often.

Butler’s curve is currently above average and has the depth and late break to become a plus power curve ball that could give major leaguers a heckuva tough time.
Grade: 55/65

Change: Currently his third best offering, Butler’s change is actually fairly solid considering he didn’t use it much in high school. He’s got a circle grip that should prove to be an easy learn for him with his larger-than-average hands and fingers.

With good dead-fish action, it’s already a useful offering and the more he throws it, the better it’ll get. If he can gain more confidence in the change-up, the sky is the limit for the Wisconsin native.
Grade: 50/60

Command: While he only served up two home runs in over 56 innings of work last summer, he did find a way to issue nearly 5.5 walks per nine innings. He countered that with more than 12 K/9 but the walk rates have to improve against better competition.

Butler did have spurts of solid control in Everett, but it appeared as if he was trying to make a perfect pitch and that’s something a lot of young pitchers have to fight off.

There’s no reason why Butler can’t improve his command to the average level, or better, and his 2007 campaign will likely entail a lot of dialogue containing the words “throw strikes” from pitching coach Lance Painter.
Grade: 40/50+

Mechanics: Butler’s delivery pours his left arm out of the 5/8 slot which helps him hide the ball a little longer and create a slurvy curve ball. Being 6-7 and fairly athletic can both aid and hinder Butler’s mechanics, but he’s already built a pretty solid foundation of which to work.

Only minor adjustments are necessary at this point in his career, but one of them is the inconsistent length in his stride toward home plate. See? Minor, but a necessary fix.
Grade: 50/55

Future: Butler has the pure stuff to push to become a No. 1 starter in the big leagues. To make that a reality, he’ll have to avoid major injury, which means a lot of focus on his mechanics, and vastly improve his command.

While bettering one’s command to that extent is rare, Butler’s still capable of settling in as Seattle’s No. 2 starter, right behind Felix Hernandez, who’ll be a crafty veteran when Butler breaks through in a few years.

He’s a natural candidate to turn his curve ball into a slider, but that will likely have to happen naturally and without any significant changes in his approach with his breaking ball.

Butler will start his 2007 campaign in his home state of Wisconsin where he’ll be aided, if anything, by the ballparks, though the colder weather conditions tend to make it tough to pitch, as well as hit.

Butler could move very quickly if he sustains his velocity and his command shows good improvement from year to year.

MLB ETA: 2009

MLB CLONE –

Ceiling: Mark Mulder

Median: Doug Davis

Cellar: Eric Milton

OFP: 65.5

PI Projection 2007: 3.5 ERA, 145 IP, 9.8 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 1.6 G/F

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75 Responses to “No. 4 – Tony Butler, LHP”

  1. Goose said

    I love this kid, he’s taken over Jose Lopez’s spot as my new favorite spec in the system.

    And don’t you mean settling in as the clubs numbers 3 starter? Behind Felix and Morrow. By the time Tony breaks though, hopefully Morrow will established a stranglehold on that spot. Wishful thinking I know, but a guy can dream.

  2. Maybe they are BOTH No. 2s?

  3. Goose said

    I try not to think too hard about a potential 2010 rotation of Hernandez-Morrow-Butler-Tillman-Feierabend. That would be crazy good.

  4. Greg08 said

    i think Justin Thomas should get some consideration for that roation

  5. johnb said

    Funny Goose, this possible rotation looked pretty promising four years ago. Let’s hope the next wave can stay healthy, that seems to be 3/4 of the battle.

    Ryan Anderson
    Gil Meche
    Joel Pineiro
    Travis Blackley
    Clint Nageotte

  6. There were far more reasons to believe that that former group wouldn’t pan out… since four years ago Meche’s shoulder was trash, Pineiro was juicing and Anderson was a total mess, too.

    This time around, instead of two guys that were good in AA, one with average stuff one with plus stuff but an injury-causing overuse of his slider, a juicer, a shoulder surgery recipient and a total medical disaster – even in 02 – they have a 20-year-old (Felix) that has better stuff than any of them projected to have, even Anderson… a close-to-the-bigs righty (Morrow) who has no major injuries in his history, a projectable lefty with great makeup and work habits, and three to five 3rd to 5th starters in Tillman, Feierabend, Thomas, Blackley, etc.

    There’s more legit depth now and more reason to believe that a few of them will pan out.

  7. Slack said

    Good read, Jason. I am alot less worried about Butler’s mechanics than I was before. I love the make up!
    I’ve always wondered if Pineiro was a juicer. I heard about him being clocked at 95 in a game at Boston back in ’03 but I have never seen that kind of velocity from him since. The most I’ve seen when I’ve gotten the chance to see him pitch was 92 and I remember a game where he was sitting in the high 80’s. Thus, 95 seems like juicing to me!

  8. So many guys were on something you could throw out 10 names off any team, including the Mariners, and chances are that at least 2 or 3 were on something.

  9. d2ret said

    Random inspired thoughts: Reading your section on Butlers circle change, I wondered, what are the chances that Jamie Moyer (a master of the pitch) could come back after he retires and be a pitching coach for the M’s. Im pretty sure he still makes Seattle his home. He will be done in a few years and if we could bring him in to fine tune with guys like Butler and Feirabend, it would be a beautiful thing for the M’s. He could also teach these guys the mental side of the game, with his extensive preparation and little book (or note pad) on every major league hitter. If these guys are what you say they are Jason, kids with great mental makeup and “students of the game”, then it could be a perfect match of students and teacher.

  10. d2ret said

    #9…..a ton of speculating with that one, but what are your thoughts on that one Jason. Also, after youve gone through all of the specs, you did say you were going to do some thing on Truinfel, Martinez and Ramirez correct? I am very interested to see what kind of players these guys are (although I understand you may not have much on those guys)

  11. Uncle Al said

    Jason #6
    I couldn’t agree with you more. It also fits with Bavasi and him saying he didn’t have much in value in the system he could trade over the last three years. Almost the whole 25 man roster is new from four years ago and most of the significant players picked up for the farm system have been done in the last three years also. While Gillick put together a pretty good team for a few years, his drafts were piss poor and he also destroyed the farm system. The farm system finally starts producing ML ready players for the big club next year. Last years draft looks like it was a huge success and the M’s need to be just as good this year even with an extra draft pick to work with. I’m not upset with the trades made this year because this FO could care less about the amount of money they flush down the toilet. The trade for Ramirez doesn’t look quite so stupid anymore as Soriano has his own issues and Ramirez has looked good. Somebody made the decision that we absolutely had to have Vidro and we got screwed real good because of it but Snelling had health issues and Fruto wasn’t liked in many quarters. The FO looks like it was correct in picking up Sean White in Rule V. He can pitch relief and could still be a starter down the road. My best guess is that the stupid trades are done with now as their roster is pretty well set for the next two years and they can eliminate players as they see fit.

  12. I don’t know that Moyer is the coaching type, we’ll have to wait and see. But he’s certainly got enough to teach.

  13. cujo said

    #11 AMAZING YOU WOULD SAY THAT THE FARM WAS DRY AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE 40 MAN ROSTER YOU WOULD SEE Putz,Lopez,Baek,Fierebrand,Jiminez,Blackley,Mateo,Oflahrety,Bloomquist,Rivera,Jones and Lahair all from gillicks time as gm i guess you are drinking Bavasi KOOLAID ?I sure the hell aint the guy has made horrible decisions since he has been here and the cabinet wasnt any where near bare if you really look!oH I guess he is claiming Raul he was a woody draft!

  14. Uncle Al said

    Cujo
    Give me a break for Christ sake. I said “didn’t have much in value” and in all the years Gillick was GM, they don’t have a lot to show for it. You are on something a lot stronger than my Koolaid if you’re going to try and tell me that Baek, Blackley, Jiminez, Bloomquist, Mateo, and Rivera, are the future stars of this team. Fierebrand, Jones, LaHair, Lopez, O’Flaherty, and Putz appear to have a future with the M’s but even Jones isn’t there yet and Feierabend is a MOR pitcher and not ace quality. And to just try and tear up every other player to prove a point is just stupid. If you don’t see the increase in the quality of the players being signed and drafted over the last three years, then there is no hope for you. With the resources Gillick had, he should have been able to put a team together. The problem was he killed the farm system in doing it and left Bavasi with nothing to work with but old players who had no value and the few players who had any value in the farm system had to be kept. Seattle ownership got exactly what they paid Gillick to do and he put together a good team for a number of years with no regard for the farm system and that is why this team is still another year or two away from where it needs to be.

  15. Let’s not turn this into a Bavasi versus Gillick, fellas, because there is simply no comparison.

    Truth is, the draftees from Gillick’s days aren’t nearly as bad as even I thought they were, especially since Jones has turned into a b+ prospect and Feir, O’Flaherty and LaHair have stepped up.

    None of Bavasi’s draftees have proven anything yet. I do like the picks the last two years and they appear to be at least decent overall, potentially good.

    But dare we credit Bavasi that much for Fontaine’s work?

    And we can’t forget that the trades and free agent signings favor Gillick significantly.

  16. AQ said

    JAC – not only do we need to be careful not to credit Bavasi too much for Fontaine’s work, we should also be careful to not criticize Gillick too much for Engel’s work. Developing a farm system (from my understanding) has less to do with the GM and more to do with the director of scouting.

  17. Uncle Al said

    Jason #15
    No Bavasi = No Fontaine.
    I would certainly hope the trades and free agent signings favor Gillick significantly as he had a much better situation to work in than Bavasi plus he’s much better at it. My whole contention is that Bavasi looks worse than he actually is because of the situation Gillick left him with. The FO saw this meltdown coming in 03′ and
    decided to rebuild the team on the fly as well as the farm system. The reason for making this decision was because there would have been a huge drop in attendance over the next 5 years it would’ve taken to put the farm system back together in producing players for the ML roster. I hated the decision to keep both Bavasi and Hargrove this year and the Vidro trade. Looking back with hindsight, It may have been the smartest thing the FO has done in a long time. This years draft is ultra important and Fontaine is still here. The team is competetive this year with no long term contracts. The M’s blew $8.5M on Weaver because they didn’t think Baek or Blackley could do the job. Morrow, Feierabend, and Thomas could all be ML ready next year which could lead to trades for Washburn, Batista, or Ramirez. Jones and LaHair could be ready next year and Sexson and Guillen, or Vidro could also be traded. The situation is still far from perfect but it isn’t a complete disaster any longer either. It’ll really be interesting to see your top 50 next year and the new names that are going to show up.

  18. Re: 16

    Actually Engle has never been the scouting director for the M’s… When Gillick was here, Jongewaard and Mattox were the two guys to blame or credit.

    Engle is the international genius.

    Re: Uncle Al

    I agree that Bavasi is at least a little smarter than he appears, that has been my contention from day one. But if he isn’t smart enough to stand up to those who might be hindering his work, than he isn’t a good general manager in the first place.

    Yes, he was left with very little to work with, but was unable to make the right kinds of decisions to take a step toward getting better — the right step anyways.

    In the end it’s clear that the M’s have three replacement to find, but unortunately, only two are going to be axed.

    Lincoln should go, too, but he won’t.

  19. Uncle Al said

    Jason #18
    Everything you said about Bavasi is true. I’ve been fired a few times in the past for doing the right thing for the company rather than do what the CEO wanted. Every CEO I ever worked for could care less about the company or the people that worked for them. All that ever mattered was how much more money could they get out of the owners before they finally got fired.

  20. Yep, and baseball is no different.

    Bavasi should have made himself a martyr of sorts. If that’s even possible in the game of baseball. The suits wouldn’t have signed off on a lot of the things Bill might have done if he was making the decisions.

    Part of why Bavasi looks so bad is the spin he puts on all the moves… but… what would want him to say…”yeah, we think Soriano has more value than that, but…”

    Of course he isn’t ever going to say things like that.

  21. cujo said

    In the end they can have the greatest drafts of all times but it doesnt matter when you keep spending money wildly on bad free agents.Other then Raul Bavasis free agent coices have been horrible.Joh like Itch came from Yamaguchi so they are non factors period.I like the first 3 pitchers from last years draft but it seems to be forgotten Tui aint quite what they thought Clement by the sound of it cant catch and the bat has gone south that is a combined 5 million right there so i wouldnt say the first 2 drafts where very good.

  22. AQ said

    Whoops.. I meant to write Mattox in my post and somehow Engel was stuck in my head. 🙂

  23. Slack said

    Jason,
    Who has better mechanics? Tillman or Butler?
    Also, are the M’s going to limit the use of Butlers curve at all this year? It might benefit his changeup since it already looks pretty good. A plus heater and changeup is a lethal mix.

  24. Adam B. said

    I doubt very much that the M’s would severely limit Butler’s curve as it still needs development, is one of his better pitches (if not his best), and most starting pitchers need at least 3 decent pitches to get through 6 innings +.
    I do see Slack’s point though, last thing the Mariners need is another Nageotte (*sniff*).

    According to Baseball America, T-But’s curve is the best in the M’s system, though I think it’s arguable that Tillman’s offering is better.

  25. Slack said

    Luckily, the curve isn’t as stressful on the arm as a slider which Nageotte threw.
    I was asking about mechanics originally but comparing their curveballs is interesting too. I always thought Tillman would have the better one but to be able to say that Butler has a comparable one is interesting.

  26. Adam B. said

    Well I wasn’t just comparing the two just in terms of Nageotte’s injury, but also his pitch selection.

    A backwards approach can work decently up through even the high minors, but controlling ones fastball becomes a major issue once you hit the majors and the majority of the hitters become disciplined enough to realize that they don’t have to worry about catching up to your fastball.

  27. If they limit it, it’ll be late in the year and be based on innings and if he suffers any soreness. Otherwise, no.

    Tillman v. Butler mechanics wise?

    I really can’t answer that but Butler’s frame at 6-7 gives him a more natural route to bad mechanics. But it doesn’t mean he’ll develop any.

  28. So, Morrow pitched another hell of an inning-plus. Evidently (I didn’t hear it myself, so I can’t verify), Bavasi was in the broadcast booth hinting that Morrow’s actually got a shot to start the season in the ‘pen — closing, even, if JJ’s on the shelf for a bit. I’m firmly in the camp that believes he’ll be in the M’s rotation very, very soon (like, even end-of-2007 soon), but while it may be nice to see him out of the ‘pen in ’07, I’d MUCH rather he get a few months of reps in either Tacoma’s or Tennessee’s rotation rather than in Seattle’s bullpen.

    I do know they’re going to need some serious help in the ‘pen, especially with GS52 off to his typical not-good start. But I just would like to see Morrow get a little more seasoning. Spring Training isn’t a good measure of performance, generally, but you do have to admit Morrow is grabbing a lot of folks’ attention…

  29. Yeah, they are dumb enough to bring Morrow north with them and delay or ruin his chances of becoming a starting pitcher.

    This is NOT the same scenario in Boston with Papelbon, who made 48 minor league starts before his call-up and year as the Sox closer… then back to the rotation

  30. M-Pops said

    Bavasi wasn’t just hinting, he said that Morrow’s chances of making the big club are good, and also that they might need him in the pen if JJ is not 100% going into the start of the season.

    I like it. I would much rather see Morrow help the Mariners by coming out of the pen than have him mowing down AAA batters for the first half of the season.

    With Morrow, the M’s bullpen is much stronger.

  31. jp17 said

    I don’t like it. First we don’t know that Morrow will mow down AAA batters as he has yet to pitch above A-ball. Second, I would much rather have Morrow concentrating on building up arm strength for his spot in the M’s rotation after Weaver is DFAd.

    Maybe they plan on using Morrow in the pen this year, and stretching him out next year. Stupid.

  32. JasonAChurchill said

    Way to think of the future, there pops. You must be Chuck Armstrong.

  33. cujo said

    15 Profesional innings and the long faced baldman is gonna wreck another one!Could we please fire this guy before he wrecks this org for good.Let morrow start somewhere even a dumb fan like me knows starting pitchers are harder to come by then relievers.Believe me the only plan Bavasi has is SAVE MY JOB at all cost!

  34. Greg08 said

    wow if they make Morrow a reliever i’ll be mad. i want him to be an effective starter and having him expirence failure at the major league level coming out of the pen wont help, and it’ll probley make him worse. Morrow is not expierenced enough to be at the Majors. Just because he’s had a good spring, doesnt mean hes ready. look at how Francisco Cruceta did last spring…hand look how he did at the major league result…thats not a good path for Morrow. In my opinion, Bavasi should be fired and Morrow should be a starting pitcher at Double-A and if he dominates hitters, bring him to Tacoma. DONT RUSH PROSPECTS. well unless you want the results Tui, rob johnson, and clement had

  35. jp17 said

    Or Adam Jones?

  36. Goose said

    So if he makes the club, would he be the first candidate to replace Weaver when he gets bombed?

  37. Greg08 said

    i would choose Feierabend or Baek or maybe even Justin Thomas to replace Weaver b4 Morrow. I have nothin against him, jus i think he needs more expirience

  38. Goose said

    Weird coincidence that Morrow has been the talk of the town and he just happens to be the next prospect in line.

  39. M-Pops said

    The Giants will probaly use Lincecum as a reliever until Lowry/Morris get injured.

    For Detroit’s Miller, probably the same thing.

    I don’t pretend to know as much about player development as you do, Jason, but I just don’t see how this stunts Morrow’s growth. The rotation is full right now; let him come outta the pen.

  40. Katal said

    Ditto what M-Pops says.

    I’m hesitant in saying that it’s a great idea to start Morrow off in the majors, but other teams are taking similar measures. Where’s the harm in giving him a few weeks in the bullpen until Putz gets back, and then returning him to AAA, where he can stretch out his arm?

    That is, of course, assuming that the M’s follow the plan. I wouldn’t like to see him in a relief role all season.

    I can’t wait for the Brandon Morrow scouting report. I’m particularly interested to see who’s going to be ranked ahead of the other, Clement or Morrow.

  41. Don’t let the Giants persuade you to do anything with young pitchers. They abused Jerome Williams into oblivion and ignored Jesse Foppert’s cries for help.

    They dealt away Bonser, Nathan and Liriano for jack friggin squat… and they aren’t going to use Lincecum in the pen all year… they have open spots to hand him in May or June.

    The M’s don’t and aren’t the type of organization to squeeze out an 8 million dollar signee in May to start Morrow.

    Besides, if Seattle was in contention in July or August, I’d be an advocate of using Morrow in the pen if that’s where he’d help the most. But to do it right off the bat?

    It’s pretty ridiculous. Morrow needs innings.

  42. Slack said

    MLB.com said that it was unlikely that Morrow makes the team out of spring training but that his stock was rising.

  43. yeah, but who said that at MLB.com? Jim Street? Someone whose byline is
    “special to MLB.com”?

    Grain of salt.

    But they are probably right. I think in the end the club will resist.

  44. Ron Hagerty said

    Wouldnt mind seeing Mr. Morrow get roughed up the next couple times out… This kid needs to be in the minors working as a starting pitcher..

  45. Uncle Al said

    Jason
    While we’re waiting on your Morrow scouting report, I’m pleasantly surprised that the M’s haven’t given away Broussard and Reed for nothing. I think they should keep both of them this year unless they get a trade they can’t refuse which isn’t likely. Baldy would probably screw it up anyway. I also haven’t seen much on how Reed is coming along on getting his hitting stroke back. Is he completely healthy this year? Could you shed some light on these two guys.

  46. I asked about Reed over the weekend and he’s 100%. He’s not hitting for average right now, but his IsoP is 140.

  47. Adam B. said

    I sincerely hope that all the talk of bringing up Morrow is simply that; TALK.

    I don’t think bringing him up would necessarily have any negative repercussions short of making one of your franchises most valuable players ride the pine in a time when he would be far better served garnering valuable innings and professional starting experiance with the Diamond Jaxxxxx or Rainers.

    If he’s a future closer, fine. Bring him up. If on the other hand, the Mariners intend to ultimately use him as the starting pitcher they DRAFTED him as, having him start in the major-league pen is only a disservice to him.

  48. Exactly, Adam, because you don’t draft a future closer 5th overall. Period.

  49. Adam B. said

    Don’t tell me Jason, Bavasi is the guy making all the funny sounds. 😉

  50. Adam B. said

    That should’ve read “You don’t need to tell me…”

  51. Everyone knows Morrow is No. 3, and it’ll go up tomorrow afternoon, but I wanted to say this BEFORE I post it.

    Morrow sat at No. 2 for about 20-30 days back in November-December. I was convinced that Clement was NOT going to catch in the big leagues and that his confidence at the plate was bitten enough to set him back a half year, or more, delaying his arrival in the big leagues and reducing his value as a prospect.

    The two are so closely graded in my eyes, though it’s very difficult to compare a pitcher and a hitter. Morrow’s DOWNSIDE is BETTER, and at the time that was a huge reason why I had him at No. 2 and Clement at 3.

    But over the winter months, December and January (early), I got enough info to reverse the rankings, and even after Morrow’s hot spring, I would NOT change the rankings.

  52. I don’t think Bavasi is making the call on this. Yes, it’ll appear that way because he is the GM and could vetoe any move recommended by the field manager or anyone else, but I think Fontaine is making this call in the end and Bavasi will strongly support that when going back to Grover/Lincoln or whoever.

  53. Edman said

    Geez, some of you think way too much. So, there have never been successful starters who started in relief? All pitchers have to go through the same minor league programs, to be successful?

    Because Morrow gets some experience in the pen this year, doesn’t mean he’ll never start. If he’s ready, he’s ready. If he looks overmatched, you can certainly return him to the minors without concluding his career is forever damaged.

    Some of you insist on painting every prospect with the same paintbrush. There is no proven road to success. That is determined by the kid throwing or hitting the ball. If he can mentally handle the majors, just what value is there in having him mow down AAA hitters? Felix dominated AAA, and just how much more effective did that make him last year? I contend that it did him harm as well, He became over confident that all he had to do was throw the ball, and he’d get outs. After all, it was easy. Growth comes from challenge. Making the test easier, doesn’t develop ability. If you can get major leaguers out, you should be in the majors.

    I have no problem sending Morrow down, but I don’t see that his career is in jeopardy because he gains some major league experience and learns to adapt to the pressures at that level.

  54. Edman said

    Oh, and BTW…..to try to unlink Fontaine from Bavasi, is pathetic. Bavasi isn’t hired to determine who to draft and develop. He’s hired to find the guys that can. His job is far to vast to put the tag on him for specific decisions in the draft. The only time he gets involved is if it’s an issue of money vs. talent. His job is to let Fontaine do his work and stay the hell out of his way…..which, he appears to do. Bavasi gets all the credit in the world for those that Fontaine drafts, because he hired Bob to do just that. Fontaine fails, so does Bavasi.

  55. Edman, yer missing one major fact.

    Morrow hasn’t pitched much as a pro period… he needs innings. It’s not like Felix at all, nor Pineiro or Schilling or Papelbon.

    Any way you want to spin it, Morrow’s future as a starter loses developmental time every day he’s pitching in relief THIS YEAR.

  56. Turtle said

    Here is a list of five current and five retired ace’s who spent at least there first year out of the pen.

    Johan Santana
    Pedro Martinez
    Curt Schilling
    Roy Halladay
    Carlos Zambrano

    Nolan Ryan
    Jim Palmer
    Bob Gibson
    Gaylord Perry
    Sandy Koufax

    I am not taking a side but just showing it works for some.

  57. Goose said

    Jason hit the nail on the head. If your gonna start him out in the pen to get him experience at the big league level, then fine. But he needs SOME starting experience first! He’s had a whole 5 pro starts since he was drafted. Now granted, he’s been damn good in those 5 starts, but I’d be more confortable with him getting 15-25 more under his belt.

    Oh and as far as that list goes.Number of starts made by those players in the minors before they started in the pen in the majors:

    Santana:49
    Martinez:76
    Schilling:108
    Halladay:75
    Zambrano:63
    Ryan:43
    Palmer:19
    Gibson:Can’t find his minor league record, probably never played.
    Perry:Not sure, but at least 75.
    Koufax:Didn’t play in minors.

  58. Adam said

    Good job, Goose. That’s the whole point, right there.

  59. Dylan said

    Morrow’s 150 college innings don’t count?

  60. eknpdx said

    Jason, I’ll remind you later of course, but it would also be cool if you could give your opinion about how our top 4 of Butler, Morrow, Clement, and Jones compare talent wise (ceiling, tools, polish) to that of the other prospects around the league, relative to their played position.

    In other words, could you do a round up of Jones vs. 3 of the other top “CF” prospects, Morrow vs. 3 of the other top “Power” RHP, etc. . .

  61. Adam said

    Dylan – I’d say they don’t count very much.

  62. Adam B. said

    Ask anybody in baseball and they’ll tell you collegiate innings aren’t quite the same as professional innings.
    Certainly to some extent pitching is pitching, but being on a seven day rotation is quite a bit different then a five day rotation, and the level of preperation, travel time, opposing talent, and emotional demands of playing in front of thousands of people are just a few of the factors one has to take into account.

    As for Morrow’s 151 odd scholastic innings, that’s his TOTAL innings for three years in college. In the pros, 150 innings isn’t a full year in the rotation.
    What it comes down to is conditioning and experiance, Morrow doesn’t have enough of either right now.

    Certainly nobody is saying he couldn’t be successful out of the Mariners bullpen (or even starting) this April, it would just be a very foolish move on the part of what has been shown to be a very foolish organization.

  63. Slack said

    Yeah, I don’t think they count a whole lot either. I think he needs professional innings now. Minor Leaguers are better than college hitters and so he will need innings against them.

  64. Edman said

    So Adam, what are innings for? Why is being a starting pitcher in college any different, as far as workload goes? If you can get major league hitters out, then what will more time in the minors do? Generally, the pro innings constitute more about pitch selection and location….than anything else. If a kid out of college already has command and understands pitch selection, then what do those extra minor league innings buy you?

    If he’s ready, he’s ready….period. If you’re trying to say that getting confidence getting out AAA hitters is more valuable than getting it against major leaguers…..then I’d say you are flat wrong.

    Again, trying to put everyone in the same mold. Some kids are more prepared than others…..and, that’s one of the things that makes you a top five pick in the draft. You have to demonstrate that you both mentally and physically ahead of your peers. If you aren’t, you’re a second rounder, at best.

  65. Slack said

    Being a starting pitcher in college is different as far as workload goes. They don’t pitch as many innings and as Adam has already said, they pitch in a seven day rotation rather than a five day rotation. That is an adjustment. I remember hearing Justin Verlander talking about how tough the adjustment was. Morrow needs to get his innings as a starter now. Then, it would probably be okay to break him in as a reliever before making him a starter.
    Are you saying Morrow is ready? Just because he did well against the middle of the Cubs order once doesn’t mean he’s ready. It’s a good sign though. Andrew Miller is arguably a better talent than Morrow and the Tigers don’t seem to think he’s ready just yet either.

  66. Adam said

    Edman – So you think that six innings of spring ball are evidence that Morrow is ready?

    All innings are not created equal. Pitching against college players is not the same as pitching against professional hitters. It’s just not. You can’t cut it any other way – the kid does not have much experience as a pitcher.

    And if we drafted him to be a starter, why retard his progress by putting him in the bullpen? He has to learn how to develop his secondary pitches, to stretch out his arm, and to pace himself as a pitcher. He’d be much better served by getting three times as many innings in the minors than he would in the majors.

    Finally, putting any trust in management’s evaluation of Morrow’s readiness is naive and ill-informed. See Adam Jones, Jeff Clement, Matt Tuiasasopo…

  67. Adam B. said

    Apples and Oranges.

    Edman, you’re talking as if we’re simply arguing that he’s not ready because he’s immature or unprepared developmentally. So again I’ll reiterate my point that NO ONE here has argued whether Morrow is ready to take on major-league hitters.
    If you take a dozen or so spring-training innings as an indication (and that’s very debate worthy) then he’s obviously ready to get major-league hitters out.

    That isn’t the point.

    The point is, his WORKLOAD and CONDITIONING are almost definately not up to major league standards and in that respect he isn’t ready to be a major-league starter. Sticking him in the Mariners bullpen for 3 months isn’t going to help him in that respect.
    Could the Mariners bring him up? Sure. Could he succeed out of the bullpen? Certainly. Could he then go onto a sucessful career as a starting pitcher without any form of transition? Maybe. Is any of the aforementioned career path a good idea? NO.

  68. Edman said

    As I said, every kid is different. If Morrow is ready, then it does him no good to pitch in the minors getting “easy” outs.

    And no, I don’t think six innings says much at all. If I did, Willie would be the starting secondbaseman.

    What I am saying is, IF he demonstrates that he’s ready to pitch in the majors, then don’t simply demote him, cause he hasn’t pitched a lot of minor league innings.

    Felix pitched in the minors…..while Justin pitched in college. Justin came from a solid program, where one can assume he had better instructors than say, Whatsamata U.

    I’m all for Morrow going to AAA. But, if he’s clearly ready for the majors, you’re simply wasting his ability because you need to feel better about his growth.

    So, you’re all for holding back kids that are clearly ahead of others, because you don’t want them to miss what it’s like to be a fifth grader? Sometimes, you have to elevate kids to a level where they’ll be challenged.

  69. John S said

    Morrow had to be shut down after the college season because his arm was fatigued. If his arm wasn’t stretched out for a college season, what’s going to lead you to believe that at this point that his arm is ready for even a season? I know he was in AZ working out but he still has not had a heavy workload on his arm. Putting him in the pen will only slow down his development as a starting pitcher. He needs to test his arm in the minors to make sure that his arm can handle the kind of workload needed for a starting pitcher.

  70. Adam B. said

    Edman, you say that the M’s shouldn’t just demote him for the sake of demotion.
    In the same vein they shouldn’t keep him in the majors just because he can get major league hitters out.

    I’m extremely happy Morrow has shown the maturity and ability he has during his brief spring tenure, he shouldn’t be a top ten pick if he couldn’t open some eyes. None of what he’s done or can do before the start of the season makes bringing him up to ride the pine a good idea.

    In truth, I’d be all for the Mariners bringing him up and give him a regular rotation spot (if warranted!), but that isn’t the case here. He’d be sitting on the end of the bench for use in situations he wasn’t drafted to fulfill and wasting his development time as a starting pitcher.

    Even if he IS ready, the only way I feel that the M’s would know that with any certainty is if he shows consistant dominance in a regular starting schedule; And not just in sporadic 1-2 innings stints against a mixed bag of spring-invitees, roster filler and regulars in early season form.

  71. Greg08 said

    i really dont see why people have pegged Morrow as a future closer

    if u get the 5th overall pick…u better not draft a future close

    if he was drafted as a starting pitcher, dont waste his talent in the bullpen

  72. Slack said

    Hey guys,
    Weaver got lit up today!
    Not a good sign!

  73. Re: Morrow

    It’s never good to rush a kid and when even a college draftee has less than 20 innings of pro experience, it’s such a long shot that he’s really ready for the show… but that isn’t even the point.

    Morrow’s future should be protected — his future as a starter. Starting him off in the big leagues in the bullpen is the exact opposite of that.

    It’s not a matter of opinion.

  74. cujo said

    Facing hitters with #85 on there back in spring training aint gonna be the same as facing Michael Young are Eric Chaves during the season.This guy is a great talent just let him spend a 1/2 year at least down on the farm and then we will see if everyone is still thinking we got the next coming of ??????

  75. Couldn’t agree more, but he did face the no 1 guys from the Cubs, fanning Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee in the same inning. There’s no doubting his stuff, but he needs to work on command, a true change and bettering his slider so he can START.

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