As I write this, a massive blizzard/snowstorm is barreling toward Kansas City. Tomorrow the forecast is calling for a little bit of freezing rain before things turn to snow late Monday. Tuesday we’re supposed to have 30-40 mile per hour winds and lots of heavy snow. The “experts” are calling or 8-12″ of white fluffy fun to fall from the sky. If that projection turns out to be true, almost 30″ of snow will have fallen at our house in the last month after having barely seen a few flakes prior to that.
Now I know those of you who live further north have endured far more than 30″ of this junk. At one point my mom mentioned that the Twin Cities had seen 55″ this winter and that was a while ago. If you’re reading this and you live in the great state of Minnesota you’ve had it worse, but I can promise you that you are also better equipped to handle snowfall.
Spring and baseball can’t come soon enough, but while we wait I thought now would be a good time to take a look back at the players that made their major league debuts for the Minnesota Twins during the 2010 season.
To do this, I’m going to follow the same format that I planned to use to cover the debuts of all organizations on Call to the Pen. While I didn’t get past the Arizona Diamondbacks on my planned series over there, the intro I wrote applies here.
"During the 2010 season hundreds of players made their major league debuts. It is an event that represents (among many other things) the achievement of a life-long dream. It also represents the start of a entirely new journey for these players, and I feel each and every one of them deserves some coverage here on this site.In this series, I plan to recount each players; acquisition, pre-season prospect status, minor league performance, major league debut, and what it all means for their future in 2011."
The best place to start is, of course, the beginning and that brings us to …
Drew Butera – Catcher
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2005 draft by the New York Mets, Butera was dealt to Minnesota on July 30th, 2007. Along with Drew, the Twins also received Dustin Martin in exchange for soon-to-be free agent 2B Luis Castillo. Of course the Mets wound up signing Castillo to an ill-advised 4-year, $25 million contract that offseason. But we’re not here to recount the recent mistakes of the New York Mets so we will leave those sleeping dogs lie.
To call Butera a “prospect” heading into the 2010 season would have been a bit of a stretch. In their 2010 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America didn’t even list Drew on their minor league depth chart. He was not listed but six other Twins catchers were: Wilson Ramos, Jose Morales, Josmil Pinto, Danny Rams, Tobias Streich and Chris Herrmann. Still Butera figured to reach the majors based on his defensive ability as well as his ability to work with a pitching staff.
In this respect, one member of the Twins community was almost prophetic in his projection of Drew Butera. In the 2009 edition of his Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, Seth Stohs wrote the following:
"He could be the Twins #3 catcher as early as 2009, but it’s more likely that he would make his debut with the Twins at age 26 in 2010, just one upping his dad."
Well played Mr. Stohs – well played.
In the above quote he mentioned Drew’s dad who is none other than Sal Butera. Sal, you may recall, also debuted with the Twins in 1980. He wound up playing in 359 major league games over 9 seasons. Like his son, Sal was a no-hit backup catcher. Drew figures to be better defensively and one would hope he could out produce his father’s 0.227/.302/.295 slash stats but that may not happen. After all, the younger Butera managed to hit just 0.214/.296/.317 in 5 minor league seasons.
On April 9th, against the Chicago White Sox, Drew Butera took the field and made his major league debut. He went 0-3 with 3 SO and a sacrifice, but did see 19 pitches in his 4 PA. The Twins won 4-3 in 11 innnings. Butera would wind up seeing action in 49 games on the season hitting 0.197/.237/.296 with 4 BB and 25 SO in 155 PA. That works out to a less than stellar OPS+ of 44. Behind the plate he was excellent. He threw out 43% (16 of 37) of runners attempting to steal and by all accounts worked very well with the pitching staff.
No matter how good his defense is, or becomes, he’s going to have to become more effective with the bat in his hands if he wants to have a career as a backup catcher. Jose Morales is now with the Colorado Rockies and we all remember the deadline deal that saw Wilson Ramos take his talents to Washington. That leaves Joe Mauer and Butera as the only 2 catchers on the team’s 40-man roster right now. Drew’s role as the team’s backup catcher appears to be secure for 2011, but all bets are off beyond that if he can’t manage to improve at the plate.