Scouting Report: Drew Butera

Butera has great catching skills.

The New York Mets selected Andrew "Drew" Butera in the fifth round of the 2005 MLB Draft out of University of Central Florida. An above-average defensive backstop, his bat didn't come around as quickly as the Mets would have liked. Here's a scouting report on Drew Butera, including quotes and inside information.

Name: Drew Butera
Position: Catcher
DOB: August 9, 1983
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

For Drew Butera, it was an easy decision to accept an invitation to the Hawaiian Winter League, with each week promising of five days of play against top competition, plus two days to explore the island's natural beauty.

"It was tough, but somebody had to do it," Butera said.

Suiting up for the North Shore Honu following what the second-year professional catcher called a "learning season" with the Hagerstown Suns, Butera took in one final lesson before preparing for 2007 – one that he believes will help him rebound from a disappointing offensive campaign.

"I got real pull-happy a couple of times when I was going hot, but when I'm going my best, I go the other way with breaking balls," Butera said. "Over in Hawaii, I learned a key thing that I think is going to help me; to be relaxed and go as slow as possible. When I don't think and go slow, I stay back and recognize the breaking ball. Most of my hits (in Hawaii) were off the breaking ball."

A fifth-round pick of the Mets in 2005 from the University of Central Florida, where he received rave reviews as a top-flight defensive prospect, Butera found his first taste of long-season baseball challenging.

The 23-year-old batted .186 with five home runs and 38 RBI in 295 at-bats for Hagerstown, and admitted that he had worn down as the South Atlantic League schedule continued – after Aug. 1, Butera ended the year in a 5-for-41 (.121) skid.

Of equal concern, Butera said his defense behind the plate suffered as a result of fatigue as well, with passed balls skipping by as the dog days of summer settled in. Butera committed nine errors and had 21 passed balls with the Suns.

"I think there were times that I got a little lazy mentally behind the plate, and that can improve," Butera said. "But I was pretty happy with my performance throwing runners out and dealing with a young pitching staff in Hagerstown. I really took pride in handling them personally and physically on the field, and getting to know them. That was a fun part for me."

Through it all, Butera – the son of former big league backstop Sal Butera – said he was able to keep his head up.

"I never got down on myself," Butera said. "I know the talent's there, and I know I've done it before. Everything comes with time and it's a learning experience."

Butera said a new training program implemented with the help of coach Jason "Nitro" Craig could help him gain leg strength to avoid similar issues in 2007. But he also said he did not want to use being tired as an excuse.

"When you get to the big league level, you can't have passed balls and wild pitches," Butera said. "It's better to correct it now, rather than have to deal with it up there."

Butera was arguably at his best in June for Hagerstown, when he batted .286 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 18 games. It was at that time that Butera was able to stave off the temptation to become pull-happy, he said, a factor he'll look to extend in 2007.

"I had to deal with failure, but I think that will help me in the long run," Butera said. "I showed some different sides of what you have go through in your first full season. There's a physical aspect, getting stronger and dealing with that part, but there's also mental learning. You have to get yourself out of that jam so it doesn't turn into a full-on slump."

Playing about every third day for North Shore, while using his down time to hit the gym and build muscle toward 2007, Butera said he made adjustments against some of the top pitchers in professional winter ball.

He batted .232 (13-for-56) in 21 games for the Honu, picking up more regular play as the season reached its conclusion in late November.

Butera said the experience could pay dividends when he reports to the Mets' spring training complex in February. He is eyeing a promotion to Class-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League and, ideally, would like to see Double-A before the year is out.

"My goal is to get as physically strong as I can," Butera said. "I want to make sure when the season comes around again, I'll be prepared for the dog days of August. I'm just going to work as hard as I can, and hopefully they just keep moving me up."

 

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2006

Hagerstown

.186

295

55

5

38

24

1

42

72

.297

.281

2005

Brooklyn

.217

175

38

1

23

13

1

22

33

.305

.297



Batting and Power. Butera has been a tad unlucky in regards to his batting average as a professional. He is a patient hitter with good gap power, but real good breaking stuff does tend to give him fits. His swing is very long at times, which helps on outside pitches but does give him problems on the inner half of the plate. He has posted just a .198 batting average in his career thus far and he'll need to cut down on his strikeouts, make his swing more compact, and improve his selectivity to raise his average. He has moderate power right now and it doesn't appear it will get much better than that.

Base Running and Speed. Butera a bit quicker than his career tally of two stolen bases indicates. He is a decent base runner with good baseball instincts and he is above average on the bases for a backstop.

Defense. Butera certainly looks the part of a big league defensive catcher. He's adept at blocking balls in the dirt and he uses a strong arm and quick releases from behind the plate to gun down runners. He is also very good at receiving the ball and working well with his pitchers. Butera is an intelligent catcher who knows the strengths and weaknesses of his staff. His defensive abilities are strong enough on their own merit to carry him all the way to the Major Leagues.

Projection. Becoming a starting big league catcher is a bit of a stretch for Butera. And as even as strong as he is defensively, he is going to have to make some significant progress offensively to project as a big league backup catcher. Scouts initially believed he had the offensive potential to develop into a Brad Ausmus and Mike Matheny type, but he'll have to start proving it on the field in a hurry.

ETA. 2009. Even with a disappointing offensive campaign in the South Atlantic League this past season, Butera is advanced defensively enough to still warrant a promotion to the Florida State League in 2007. Expect to see him behind the plate for the St. Lucie Mets next season and he could be big league ready as a backup catcher by 2009.

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