Butler believes sinker is big league ready

Rockies prospect, who made three starts last year, to face Brewers in 2015 debut

Butler believes sinker is big league ready

MILWAUKEE -- Rockies righty Eddie Butler started three games last season, but Wednesday night at Miller Park will be his true unveiling.

With the Rockies scratching for available pitchers, Butler jumped into the Majors last June with his throwing shoulder bothering him. As a result of the shoulder issue, Butler didn't have his heavy sinking fastball, which was the reason the Rockies chose him as a supplemental first-round pick (46th overall) out of Radford University in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

That's no longer a problem, and Butler, 24, aims to demonstrate his full arsenal against the Brewers.

"All through the Minor Leagues, that's how I felt about my sinker: I could throw it any time to anybody and know they're going to hit a weak ground ball, break the bat, swing through it; that it was going to be tough for them to square it up," said Butler, the Rockies' No. 2 prospect. "It's the kind of stuff I'm able to do. I could tell some guys it's coming and they still won't hit it far. Last year was tough; that part shook me a little bit."

A healthy Butler with a better plan for shoulder maintenance and more strength in his lower body now believes he has his best sinker. Against Major League hitters, he can't overthrow the pitch. But when it's the right velocity and the right sink, he believes he can do the same to the sport's best hitters that he did to developing guys in Double-A and below.

"I think I'm better, stronger and I can throw it more often without having to try to overthrow it," Butler said. "Before, I'd overthrow and give up jam shots, but they were getting it over the infield because the ball was elevated."

There will be some learning for Butler, but the sinker -- coupled with a 96-mph rising fastball he throws to keep hitters from thinking low -- can cover for a lack of experience.

"He's got stuff that can get through Major League lineups, and that's a nice luxury to have," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

• Catcher Nick Hundley's pitch-calling strategy was part of the reason for Kyle Kendrick's seven scoreless innings in Monday's 10-0 victory over the Brewers. But Michael McKenry also gets high marks for being able to help a pitcher through games.

Weiss is comfortable with either, even when the pitcher is a young arm like Butler.

"You want a guy back there, especially with the young guys, that can get them through those tough spots," Weiss said. "We've got a couple of guys that can do it; and [Wilin] Rosario, when he's back there, has got a lot of history with those guys."

Weiss said he is not planning to give a pitcher a so-called "personal catcher," because there are other factors that go into putting together a lineup.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.