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June 22, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Quick-hitters from Pawtucket

I have had the chance to see right-hander Ty Buttrey three times over the past few weeks, during which he has had varying degrees of success. Buttrey’s stock has been rising fast since he moved to the bullpen full-time. His velocity has ticked up working in relief, especially this season, and he is missing considerably more bats. His velocity has varied slightly from outing to outing, sitting 92-95 mph and topping out at 96 mph in one outing and sitting 94-97 mph in the other two outings. When he is commanding the pitch down, it will show bat-missing ability, but when he misses location it is hittable, even with plus-plus velocity. 

Buttrey’s changeup has been his go-to secondary pitch, flashing plus potential at 84-86 mph. The pitch looks like a fastball until it falls off the table late. In the most recent outing I scouted, he showed how devastating the pitch could be, burying one down in the zone after four straight 95-plus mph fastballs and completely fooling the hitter. 

Buttrey’s slider also has shown improvement as the season has progressed. He only used the pitch in one of the three outings I scouted recently, throwing it 81-83 mph with vertical break, but he had featured it more in games scouted earlier in the season. In a relief role, Buttrey will be able to rely primarily his fastball and changeup, but having the slider as a change of pace pitch could serve him well going forward. 
As he showed in his most recent major league start, Hector Velazquez still can be a valuable depth arm for the Red Sox. In his last start in Pawtucket, Velazquez went six shutout innings and showed off his variety of pitches, constantly keeping hitters off-balance. Velazquez doesn’t have standout stuff, but he really knows how to pitch and sequence his wide-ranging arsenal. His fastball only sat 89-91 mph, but it was clear he was pacing himself in order to work deeper into the game and allow himself to command the pitch down in the zone. He also mixed in a two-seam fastball and cutter, and was able to get seven swinging strikes against some variation of his fastball even though his velocity was average at best. 

Velazquez’s best secondary pitch in the outing was his changeup, which he threw 80-84 mph with deceptive arm speed and, again, varying movement. The harder variation was more splitter-like with vertical drop, and the slower variation was more like a true changeup with late fade. Velazquez also featured his slider at 80-83 mph and curveball at 70-73 mph, though he primarily used the curveball early in counts to steal a strike. With Brian Johnson’s injury and after his solid outing following Johnson in relief, Velazquez is about to get another shot to show he can serve as major league depth relief.
Right-hander Jamie Callahan sat 92-94 mph out of the Pawtucket bullpen in relief of Velazquez. He got hit hard, allowing two home runs on fastballs up in the zone, but also showed bat-missing ability with his splitter and with his fastball when he located it. Callahan’s delivery is unique, as he comes directly over the top with a long arm swing behind. He gets great extension, driving hard off his posting leg, and as a result his fastball jumps on hitters. The pitch was on the straight side, however, and when he missed his location, he got punished. The pitch showed a little arm-side run when he took something off it at 91 mph, but was straight when he threw it at 93-94 mph. Callahan showed solid feel for his splitter at 83-86 mph, and late in the outing broke out his cutter at 86-88 mph. 

Photo credits: Ty Buttrey and Hector Velazquez by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.