Friday, June 20, 2014

Welcome to the Bigs, Ryan Buchter!

One of my favorite columns to this blog is my weekly Random Prospect series, now on Sundays. The series gives me the opportunity to touch base with several prospects I would not otherwise consider writing about. Almost a year ago, the prospect was Ryan Buchter, a lefty with questionable control who was already in his third organization. Today, that same lefty has joined the Atlanta Braves, replacing the injured Gavin Floyd on the disabled list.

Buchter joined the Braves in early 2011 after a trade and after stagnating in both the Nats and Cubs organizations, Buchter has finally began to progress through the system. He made it to Gwinnett at the end of 2012 and was in his second full season with the G-Braves when he was called up. Buchter has always been tough to hit, but like the recently called up Juan Jaime, Buchter has trouble throwing strikes. This year's 5.3 BB/9 is actually lower than last season. Unfortunately, as is his strikeouts and the margin has been significant (15 K/9 to 8.8 K/9). 

Those strikeouts last year gave the Braves reason to keep Buchter around on the 40-man roster and the lefty came to camp with a prime opportunity to win a spot, but despite regular usage, Buchter walked six in 8.2 ING to go with his 12 K's and was outclassed by fellow lefty, Ian Thomas, for the final left-handed spot in the bullpen. While he did open the season with the Braves, he was quickly demoted without being used so I felt this article was still relevant. 

Buchter's first major league call-up follows a nine-game run where he has struck out 12 in his last 12 innings with five walks. Sadly, that run seems damn impressive compared to his overall numbers. All told, Buchter throws a fastball/slider combination with velocity that hits the mid-90's comfortably. For some GIF's on Buchter's two pitches, check out this link from The Hardball Times. The chances of Buchter sticking around are much like Jaime's chances. Pretty slim. The same reason he failed to make the Braves this spring still remains. However, unlike Jaime, Buchter throws with his left-hand, which considerably enhances his value. Lefties managed a .500 OPS against Buchter this year and a .465 OPS last season. If he throws strikes, he can stick around as a LOOGY, but his manager will definitely have to use him properly. 

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