Even those Red Sox fans who keep half-an-eye on the farm system may not know who Dan Butler is. He doesn't make top prospect lists, after all, and none of his spring training appearances have had the sort of impact that Christian Vazquez' had earlier this year.
That being said, he's been around for a while. He has been in Boston's farm system since 2009, having signed on as an undrafted free agent, and put up decent numbers at every stop along the way, culminating in a .262/.350/.479 performance in Pawtucket last year, where he showed a surprising burst of power with 14 homers in just 282 at bats. All told, he has a career line of .259/.356/.429 with a walk rate over 10% while advancing through the system at a steady pace.
The problem with Butler is that he's one of those guys who, now matter how good the performance in the minors, isn't seen as likely to translate that success to the majors. They're a dime a dozen in the game, and we shouldn't really be expecting him to dodge that bullet if called upon to play for the 2014 Red Sox. That being said, Butler's best aspect has generally been his defense, even if he's been overshadowed there by Christian Vazquez.
For the Red Sox, Butler is certainly not the ideal choice behind the plate. But at the moment the options don't seem to include any ideal choices, just backup plans, and as backup plans go, Butler checks off a lot of the boxes that have been used to promote other players:
- He will be on a very low salary, and will not require a long-term commitment (Vazquez, Pierzynski)
- He is, by all accounts, a good defender (Vazquez, Hanigan)
- He has some chance for upside with his bat (Navarro, Saltalamacchia, sort of Hanigan)
- He is as ready now as he ever will be, for those concerned with rushing Christian Vazquez (Everyone not named Christian Vazquez)
- He is not A.J. Pierzynski (Everyone not named A.J. Pierzynski)