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December 4, 2015 at 8:00 AM

2015 Top 40 Season in Review: Jonathan Aro and Ty Buttrey

This week, we recap the next six players in the season-end Top 40, going from 28 to 23. All entries in this year's Top 40 Season in Review series can be found here.

#24 Jonathan Aro, RHP
2015 Teams: Portland Sea Dogs, Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston Red Sox
Final Stats: 74 IP, 3.04 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 72 K, 18 BB (minors); 10 1/3 IP, 6.97 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 8 K, 4 BB (majors)
2015 Peak Ranking: 21 (current)

Season in Review: Aro’s rapid ascent through the system culminated with two brief stints in Boston in 2015. After spending time with Greenville and Salem in 2014, Aro started this season in Portland, and after only 22 1/3 successful innings, he moved up to Pawtucket. He allowed four runs over his first 3 1/3 innings with the PawSox, but after that he absolutely dominated the International League, going 19 straight scoreless innings, walking three and striking out 27 while allowing only 10 hits.

This incredible stretch earned him a callup to Boston, where he made his major league debut on June 25 against the Orioles, allowing one run over 1 1/3 innings. He appeared in two more games, surrendering five runs over 3 1/3 innings before he was sent back down to Pawtucket. He was not as successful his second time through the league, as he tossed 29 1/3 innings over his final 16 appearances, striking out 23 and walking seven with an ERA of 4.30. He got one last cup of coffee with the Red Sox in September, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out five. - Jim Crowell

Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Aro doesn’t have a prototypical pitchers frame (listed at 6-foot-0, 172 pounds) but he has the raw stuff that will play out of a big league bullpen. Aro’s frame is on the thick side, especially in his lower half, with limited projection remaining. He throws from a high three-quarters arm slot with a short, jerky delivery. He gets some deception with his short arm action, keeping his arm behind his body as he comes to the plate. Aro’s fastball sits in the low-90s, topping out around 95 mph and will jump on hitters with late life. Aro can locate the pitch, and showed solid command in the minors, however it was an inconsistent offering during his major league stint. Aro lacks a true plus secondary pitch, though his slider is the best of the bunch. Aro’s slider has above-average potential and at its best it will show sharp, short vertical break in the mid-80s. He will also show a fringe-average to average changeup in the 82-84 mph range and throws the pitch with deceptive arm speed and it shows late dive.

Because of his size and delivery, Aro profiles best out of the bullpen. He lacks a true plus offering which limits his upside, but with the potential for two solid-average pitches and a third average one, Aro could still project as a middle reliever at the big league level. After getting his first taste of big league action in 2015, Aro will likely start 2016 in Pawtucket with an eye towards being one of the first call-ups should the big league team need bullpen help. -Ian Cundall

#23 Ty Buttrey, RHP
2015 Teams: Greenville Drive, Salem Red Sox
Final Stats: 137 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 103 K, 48 BB
2015 Peak Ranking: 17 (July)
Season in Review: 2013

Season in Review: A disappointing 2014 season dropped Buttrey out of the site’s top 40, but he rebounded nicely in 2015, showing some of the promise that led to the Red Sox giving him a $1.3 million signing bonus after the 2012 draft. He returned to Greenville to start the season, but made only four starts there before the Red Sox moved him up to Salem. He struck out one batter per inning and had a 2.45 ERA during his brief time with the Drive. 

Salem did not offer much of a challenge at first, as he went 6-1 over his first nine starts with an ERA of 2.54 over 49 2/3 innings, but the Carolina League quickly adjusted. He ended the season with a rough 12-game stretch that saw him go 2-9 with an ERA of 5.45 over 66 innings. He struck out 43, walked 28, and batters hit .283 against him. Buttrey only threw 62 2/3 innings in 2014 due to injury, and once he reached 70 innings in 2015, his performance went downhill. In all, he tossed 137 2/3 innings in 2015, more than his 2013 and 2014 season tallies combined. - Jim Crowell

Scouting Report and 2016 Outlook: Buttrey began the year with a strong rebound effort with four strong Greenville starts and nine more good ones in Salem through the end of June. However, he struggled a bit from July through the end of the year, the stretch during which my two looks came. Listed at 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, Buttrey has a strong pitcher's frame that gives him the look of a potential workhorse. Struggles with his mechanics give him inconsistent command and control of his pitches. When locked in, he throws strikes and works efficiently. When his mechanics are off, he will miss high to the arm-side and overcompensate to throw other pitches in the dirt. He also needs to work on controlling his emotions - although he has improved from the point where he once broke his hand punching the infield grass in frustration, he still gets visibly frustrated when things are not going his way on the mound, and this seems to carry over into his pitching as well.

Buttrey works with a fastball, curveball, and change. The heater sits 91-93 mph, touching 95. He works primarily with the pitch, but its effectiveness comes and goes with his mechanics as described above. Much of his sudden downturn in July could probably be attributed to abandoning the knuckle-curve he had thrown since entering the system for a more traditional curveball grip. During a look in early July, he had only recently begun to throw the pitch in games, and it was clearly a work in progress, varying in shape and coming in at 75-77 mph. By September, it had become more of a 12-to-6 bender and ticked up a couple miles per hour. His changeup has some arm-side run, coming in about 81-84 mph. He has also thrown a high-80s pitch on occasion that might be a two-seam version of his fastball.

Buttrey's assignment to start 2016 likely depends on how he looks in spring training. In our internal discussions, we have it pegged as about 60-40 that he starts in Portland versus a return to Salem. At any rate, he likely needs another full year of development before coming onto the radar for a look in the majors, barring a huge step forward in consistency. And of course, this all presumes that he is not selected in the Rule 5 draft in December, although Buttrey's level of readiness makes it unlikely a team would deem it worth interrupting his development for a year to game the system with things like phantom DL stints to retain his rights, as the Orioles did with Jason Garcia this season. - Chris Hatfield

Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor