ONE STEP CLOSER: Blake Butler
ONE STEP CLOSER: Blake Butler
Cincinnati Reds / Billings Mustangs (Rookie)
Mequon, WI – Moments after Blake Butler blasted a 12th inning walk-off home run against the Kenosha Kingfish on the final day of the first half of the 2014 season to clinch a playoff berth that would eventually culminate in the Chinooks winning their first Northwoods League Championship, GM Dean Rennicke remarked, “That boy has a future!” Butler, who was selected to play in the NWL All-Star game, provided a steady glove at shortstop and finished the summer hitting .286 with six home runs and 26 runs batted in.
In 2015, Butler returned to the College of Charleston where he finished a three year stint during which he started 177 of the 179 games in which he played and posted a career batting average of .308. Playing at second base, Butler capped his college career by earning Colonial Athletic Association Player and Defensive Player of the Year honors. After batting .325 and socking a team-best 13 home runs, the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 2015 MLB Draft (445th overall pick in the 15th round).
Butler quickly signed and headed to Arizona to play for the Reds’ Arizona Rookie League team. After adjusting during his first eight games, Butler caught fire and hit .319 with a slugging rate of .472 in 45 games. That production earned him a promotion to Billings, Montana for the final weeks of the season where Butler experienced the thrill of a playoff run by the Billings Mustangs. With the chance to train in the offseason, Butler will look for advancement in the organization in hopes of an assignment to the Class A Dayton Dragons.
Butler commented about his path:
1. The next step for me is the same as it's always been, just get better, get stronger and do things the right way.
2. The best minor league moment for me was getting to play in a playoff series. Winning has always been my priority because it makes the game fun and meaningful.
3. I still enjoy watching the dizzy bat race. They do it everywhere and it’s always fun.
4. The most difficult part of the minors is the wait and anticipation. You can't make yourself a big leaguer in one day and once you get a taste and see other big leaguers, the anticipation and desire only grows.
Fans can follow Butler’s progress at: http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=milb&player_id=664959#/career/R/hitting/2015/ALL
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (KC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.