Butler's Play Earning Red Sox's Attention





BOSTON—There was no reason to expect Dan Butler to emerge as a catching prospect.

He had spent his career at Arizona as a backup. He lost most of a college season to Tommy John surgery. In 2009, following his redshirt junior season, he went undrafted.

Yet he played in the summer Cape Cod League, was named an all-star, and the Sox received enough positive feedback on the 5-foot-10, 190-pound catcher that they took a flier on him, signing him for a $10,000 bonus.

"Everyone that we talked to on the Cape last year, the coaches of his and other teams kept saying, 'You've got to sign this guy. This guy's a prospect. I don't know why he wasn't playing (at Arizona), but he's a prospect,' " Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen said.

"(Former Sox director of amateur scouting) Jason (McLeod) called me and said, 'We're getting unbelievable makeup reports, unbelievable talent reports, we're watching the kid and he's playing well and we really want to sign him.' "

The Sox did so, and Butler got a taste of pro ball with short-season Lowell in 2009. But his line (.179/.261/.282 in 78 at-bats) did little to foreshadow his emergence in 2010.

The 23-year-old started the year with low Class A Greenville, receiving raves for his handling of the pitching staff, his energy, work ethic and his offense. He hit .327/.406/.523, and made a sufficiently strong impression that the Sox were comfortable promoting him briefly to Triple-A Pawtucket on a pair of occasions when they needed a fill-in catcher.

Butler went to high Class A Salem for the second half, and got off to a .306/.435/.444 start in 36 at-bats. In the process, he convinced the Sox that his obscure beginnings will not prevent him from a meaningful future.

"At some point in time, he will be a big leaguer," Sox roving catching instructor Chad Epperson said. "He's getting an opportunity to play and look what he's doing. He's played himself into being a prospect. These stories motivate the hell out of people and it's awesome to see."

Sox Yarns

• Shortstop Jose Iglesias, who missed two months as a result of a broken right index finger suffered on May 29, returned to games in the final weekend of July. The Sox plan to have him make up his lost at-bats in winter ball.

• Red Sox supplemental first-rounder Anthony Ranaudo did not allow an earned run in 30 innings in the Cape Cod League. As of the last days of July, he and the Sox had yet to begin negotiating.