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March 13, 2013 at 6:45 AM

2013 Prospect Previews: Manuel Margot and Ty Buttrey

Position: Outfield
2012 Team: Dominican Summer League
2013 Projected Team: Lowell Spinners
Opening Day Age: 18

Strengths: Margot’s smooth swing enables him to fluidly bring the head of the bat through the hitting zone. The outfielder possesses very quick hands and wrists, which allow him to generate excellent bat speed. Margot shows a strong aptitude for hitting at an early age. The 18-year-old keeps his hands back well during his stride and there is little wasted movement during the swing load. There’s also leverage in the swing, enabling him to produce consistent backspin. Margot’s hit tool shows the potential to develop to solid-average-to-better, with the ability to hit the ball hard to all fields. Athleticism is also an asset. His speed grades as well above-average and projects as an impact tool. The youngster demonstrates solid acceleration both on the bases and in the field. Defensively, Margot reads the ball well off the bat in center field. He shows a lot of grace and natural ability when tracking fly balls, and closes well into both gaps. The range grades as above-average, with the overall tools to round into a plus defender in center.

Development Needs: Margot is presently on the lean side and lacks strength. There is some room on his frame to fill out, but is not likely a player that is going to experience a big physical transformation as he matures into his twenties. The outfielder can develop about average power, but hitting home runs is not likely to be a large part of the offensive game. Margot’s progression polishing the hit tool will be important as most of his offensive value will be tied to making a lot of contact. Presently, the 18-year-old is in the early stages of developing a professional approach and building pitch recognition. He has shown the willingness to work counts, but is raw overall handling secondary offerings. Margot’s ability to adjust will be tested during his early career. There’s some overall growth needed to fully maximize his offensive tools, on which his potential projection as an everyday player hinges. While the defensive tools overall are a strength, the arm only presently grades as about fringe-average, which puts an emphasis on sticking in center.

2013 Outlook: Margot showed impressive tools during the Fall Instructional League and is a talent to watch. The outfielder should make his states-side debut in 2013, likely with the Lowell Spinners. Margot will be getting his first taste of more advanced arms this season. It should give a good look as to where he stands with building his approach and coming up to speed with picking up secondary offerings. I don’t expect a huge breakout for Margot this season, but the prospect is on the rise within the system. This year will be about building the skills needed for a full-season placement in 2014. I see Margot capable of making the necessary adjustments and progressing forward, but there will be some struggles or inconsistency. There’s plenty of development time in front of him, with the 18-year-old just beginning the initial stages. The foundation is there to develop into an everyday big leaguer. 2013 serves as Margot’s first challenge to prove he is beginning to trend in that direction.

Position: Pitcher
2012 Team: Gulf Coast Red Sox
2013 Projected Team: Greenville Drive
Opening Day Age: 20

Strengths: Buttrey possesses the raw stuff to develop into an effective pitcher at the major league level. The fastball operates 91-94 mph, capable of touching up to 96 when he reaches back. The 6-foot-6 right-hander utilizes his size well to create leverage and throw downhill, especially when he is holding a high three-quarters release point. Buttrey’s heater tends to jump on opposing hitters as it seems to come out of his body at the last instant. The offering shows late finish and run when in the lower tier of the strike zone. The soon-to-be 20-year-old also feels both of his secondary offerings well. He produces solid snap and strong angle when throwing the 74-78 mph curveball. The pitch can be very deep, with the hard spin fooling hitters into chasing it or freezing them. Buttrey’s curve can miss bats and has the potential to be a plus offering at his disposal. The righty will also lean on a low-80s changeup. He’s consistent with the arm speed, which gives the pitch deception and depth. It typically shows bottom dropping action and also has the potential to round into an above-average pitch in the repertoire.

Development Needs: Buttrey’s overall command needs growth in order for him to achieve his ceiling of a starting pitcher at the major league level. His delivery can go through stretches of inconsistent timing and fall out of rhythm. Buttrey gets late with his arm, which makes it difficult for him to keep his release in slot. The righty’s stuff is at its best when he is delivering from a high three-quarters slot. Both the command and movement of his fastball are hindered when he drops down. The heater tends to be straight above the thighs. Buttrey will also have trouble keeping the ball down when he is opening early. There’s improvement needed throwing more quality strikes consistently in the lower tier of the strike zone and away from the middle of the plate. The curve will also lose some crispness when the delivery gets out of rhythm. Buttrey fails to stay on top of it and releases it off-balanced, causing the offering to hang. The young pitcher needs to learn how to consistently throw downhill. Most of his ups and downs will stem from issues with keeping his delivery tight. He may end up being better suited as an arm out of the bullpen if there aren’t enough steps forward polishing off the mechanics.

2013 Outlook: Buttrey’s another prospect potentially on the rise in 2013 and is likely going to be tasked with beginning his professional development in a full-season assignment. I see the right-hander’s stuff translating well against the South Atlantic League competition and is very likely to show that it’s ahead of the curve. Buttrey’s big task will be beginning to show that he’s becoming more consistent with his command. I feel this is the main point of interest for the righty in 2013. While he probably will be able to get away with some mistakes and overpower hitters at this level at times with raw stuff, progression with his polish is a must. Given he is going to be 20 years old this season, most of the projection is based on honing and sharpening rather than physical growth of the stuff. Expect him to wear down a bit over the long season and for the organization to manage the workload as well. Buttrey’s live arm, feel for his secondary stuff, and element of power make him an intriguing arm. If he is meeting the development markers and showing progress becoming more consistent with the command in 2013, I see him entering the tier of the other top arms within the system.

Photo Credits: Ty Buttrey by William Parmeter.

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen