2012 BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Buttrey lived up to the hype, and then some

by Aaron Garcia

Providence senior Ty Buttrey was one of the brightest stars for the 25-3 Panthers this season. Andrew Stark/SCW photo

Ty Buttrey’s senior season at Providence High School wasn’t about figuring out whether he could play – he answered that question as a junior when he earned eight wins on the mound and batted .410 with 33 RBIs. That performance resulted in Buttrey becoming one of the most sought-after college recruits in the nation.

But this season’s questions were based on whether Buttrey could still produce with the brightest of spotlights trained on him. The 2012 campaign was about whether he could zone out the scores of scouts holding up radar guns every time he toed the rubber. It was about whether, despite having a scholarship from the University of Arkansas in hand and the label of pro prospect on his shoulders, he could possibly live up to the hype of being the brightest star on one of the nation’s top teams.

They were the types of questions to which only the rarest of high school athletes get to respond, and Buttrey answered them emphatically.

The 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher/outfielder recorded a 9-2 record on the mound with two saves. He struck out 100 batters on the year with just 19 walks for a 0.91 ERA. At the plate, Buttrey batted .368 with 10 doubles, three home runs and 26 RBIs. For his efforts, he was also named a finalist for the National Gatorade Player of the Year award, given to the nation’s top high school player.

He also is Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2012 Southern Mecklenburg Baseball Player of the Year.

The Boston Red Sox certainly seemed convinced of Buttrey’s talents, as they selected him in the fourth round (151st overall) of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft last month. Buttrey received a $1.3 million signing bonus, according to Baseball America – in excess of $1 million more than the assigned value of $291,300 a player traditionally selected with the 151st pick receives.

Buttrey said he learned to play in front of the scouts during his junior season, when he played high-level showcase ball. He also received some advice from former Providence stars David Mailman and Brett Austin, who were MLB draftees themselves.

“Halfway through the season, and I’m not trying to (sound cocky) … but (I realized) you don’t pitch for (the scouts),” Buttrey said. “If you start worrying about, ‘Oh, do they like me or not?’ then you’re in trouble.”

Instead, Buttrey answered the season-long question by keeping his senior campaign, and his possible future, in perspective.

“(Austin told me), ‘Don’t play for the scouts – play for Providence,’” Buttrey said. “’If you play to win games, you’re going to play good yourself.’”

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