Butto received the lowest bonus of any player in the Mets’ 2016-17 international class, signing for just $5,000 at age 19 in December '16, but it hasn’t taken the Venezuelan right-hander long to emerge as a potential steal. After spending most of his first two seasons in Rookie ball, Butto moved up to Class A Columbia in '19 and steadily improved throughout his first full season, compiling a 2.72 ERA over his final 14 starts. Overall, he finished fourth among qualified Mets pitchers in ERA (3.62) and fifth in strikeouts (109).
Butto’s breakout second half corresponded with an uptick in velocity. His low-90s fastball began to creep into the mid-90s more consistently after the All-Star break and was bumping 96 mph in the season’s final weeks after the Mets began limiting him to two innings per start. Butto complements his heater with the best changeup in the Mets’ system. It’s a true plus pitch, thrown with late diving action and a near 11 mph demarcation in velocity compared to his fastball. He does have a third pitch in a changeup, but it’s below average and lags well behind his fastball-changeup pairing.
Butto’s devastating changeup is a weapon against left-handed hitters, and they batted just .199 with a .581 OPS against him in the South Atlantic League. The fact that righties fared better (.264 average, .748 OPS) underscores Butto’s need for a better breaking ball and leads some evaluators to wonder whether he can stick as a starting pitcher. If that doesn't work out, Butto has the velocity and requisite out pitch to be successful in a bullpen role.