May 2, 2014 at 12:15 AM
SoxProspects.com has confirmed through sources that at least two pitchers in the system are receiving promotions. After a strong start to his season, 2012 first-round pick Brian Johnson has been promoted to Double-A Portland. Meanwhile, right-hander Ty Buttrey (pictured, left) has joined the Low A Greenville Drive, and will make his season debut on Friday. UPDATE: We can also now confirm that left-hander Cody Kukuk will be promoted to High A Salem as well.
Buttrey was Boston's fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft as a high schooler out of North Carolina. He received an over-slot $1.3-million signing bonus to forego a commitment to pitch at Arkansas. After making four short appearances in the Gulf Coast League that season, he made what was effectively his professional debut last season with the Lowell Spinners, putting up a 2.21 ERA over 61 innings in 13 starts, striking out 35 batters and walking 21. Buttrey was brought along slowly in spring training this year, as he was just starting to throw to hitters as of late March.
Johnson (pictured, right) excelled in a return trip to Salem after a brief stint in High A to end 2013. In 2014, he is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts, striking out 33 and walking just seven in 25 2/3 innings. The success can be owed in part to his being able to fully prepare for the season, a luxury he did not have entering 2013 due to injuries suffered after he was hit with a line drive in the face while pitching for Lowell in 2012. He struggled some to start 2013 with the Drive as a result, but eventually recovered to post a 2.87 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 28 walks in 69 innings with Greenville.
Left-hander Cody Kukuk will be moving from Greenville to Salem as part of this chain promotion. In 24 innings with the Drive, he is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA, posting 29 strikeouts and 12 walks. His success can largely be attributed to an improvement in his control - last season with the Drive, in 107 innings, he walked 81 batters and struck out 113 en route to a 4-13 record and 4.63 ERA.
Photo Credit: Ty Buttrey and Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor
Chris Hatfield is Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him @SPChrisHatfield.