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Lawrence Butler Shines At Instructs

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Day by day, outfielder Lawrence Butler seemed to gain confidence as he sprayed line drives under the Arizona sun.

"He’s going to be an up-and-coming player for us in a short period of time,” farm director Keith Lieppman said. "You can immediately recognize that he has big-time power. He consistently had the best exit velocities in camp, and he squares the ball up with a compact, natural swing.”

The 18-year-old Atlanta high school product emerged as a standout at instructional league in Mesa, when he showed off the type of power that could propel him to the major leagues. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Butler is developing strength and growing into his big body.

Area scout Jemel Spearman made the recommendation, and the Athletics plucked Butler in the sixth round this year when he chose pro ball over a scholarship to West Virginia. He played mostly first base at Westlake High, but he is also learning to become a corner outfielder at the pro level.

"He looked very good at first (base),” Lieppman said. "And he has the tools to play outfield. He throws well and is an average runner.”

There will be much work on defense for Butler as he develops through the system, but his bat already shines. The lefthanded hitter made consistently hard contact and hit home runs, including a final-day drive with an exit velocity of 107 mph.

While pull power is Butler's premium ability, the A’s were also impressed by the big improvement in his hit tool. "He battles,” Lieppman said. "By the end of camp, he was fouling off pitches that earlier he was swinging and missing. He learned to have competitive at-bats. When other teams started to shift against him, he was able to hit some balls the other way.

"He just took to the program. As we went along, he just kept gaining confidence and continued to show off his ability.

Butler was the sole high school player the A’s drafted in the first 10 rounds, and their field staff attempted to make him comfortable in his first instructional league to help him make the adjustment to professional baseball.

Butler responded by making the A’s feel very comfortable about his future.

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A’s ACORNS

>> Catcher Sean Murphy has recovered from his broken hamate bone and returned to action as the starter for the Dominican League’s Toros del Este, where he is joined by organization-mate Jorge Mateo.

>> Righthander Grant Holmes received an assignment to the Arizona Fall League but had to be replaced when he came down with a sore shoulder in instructional league. Righthander Calvin Coker got the call, though he is only in his first year of pro ball after being a 15th-round pick out of Auburn in the June draft.

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