Radford junior right-handed starting pitcher Eddie Butler was selected 46th overall in the first compensatory round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies, announced at the MLB Network studios on Monday night.
Butler is the highest draft pick in Radford University history and is also the first player in Big South Conference history to be selected in the first compensatory round of draft picks -- the Rockies earned a selection in this round by losing Mark Ellis to the Dodgers during free agency prior to the 2012 season. Butler was the second selection of the Rockies during the first round of the MLB Draft, joining high school outfielder David Dahl (10th overall).
"It was the greatest feeling in the world to hear my named called -- my mom ran towards me crying and hugged me," Butler said. "Getting to this point has been my goal and something I've worked towards my whole life."
"Radford has done a lot for me - Coach (Joe) Raccuia gave me the opportunity to come here and pitch, and my family and I have loved the emphasis that he's put on developing the pitching staff. Coach (Brian) Anderson has helped really get my velocity up the last few years and helped me command my fastball. Coach (Michael) Shumaker has been great too, helping me add 30 pounds and add some more of that velocity and help get me here."
"I'm really proud of everything that Eddie's accomplished and that he did it as a Highlander," head coach Joe Raccuia said. "He deserves everything that's coming his way -- he's got a chance to make a career for himself and a lot of people at Radford have helped him get to this point. It's been a testament to a lot of support, especially coach Anderson who's developed him these years."
"He's got a long career ahead and we look forward to supporting him the whole way."
In just three years, Butler etched his name into the program's record books. He leaves Radford second in all-time wins with 22 -- in 2011 he matched a school single-season record with nine victories. Butler's 3.84 career ERA is fourth in the program's history and his 232 strikeouts in 279 innings are third.
Butler entered his first season of draft eligibility in 2012 ranked the second-best prospect in the Big South Conference by Baseball America and didn't disappoint. He became the first Radford player to earn Conference Pitcher of the Year honors (sharing the award with Coastal Carolina's Aaron Burke), posting a 7-4 record and 2.20 ERA in 14 starts -- his season ERA was the best in school history.
Opposing batters found the going tough against Butler, hitting just .217 off of him while he tossed a Big South-leading 95 strikeouts.
Every outing was a chance for the Highlanders to win with Butler on the mound -- he allowed more than three runs in just one start and worked past the fifth inning in every start.
Routinely, Butler was dazzling. He struck out 10 batters three times and fanned eight or more hitters seven times, featuring a fastball clocked as high as 97 mph and a power sinker at 90-plus mph.
His season was highlighted in part by a pair of 5-hit shutouts. Butler dispatched Fairleigh Dickinson in a 1-0 win on April 13 in just 1 hour 38 minutes, setting a school record for the quickest nine-inning game. Two weeks later, he tossed a five-hitter against Presbyterian College on April 27, striking out nine on the way to Big South Pitcher of the Week honors.
In preparation for the 2012 season, Butler spent his summer in the Cape Cod League, the premier summer collegiate league, with the Harwich Mariners - Butler became the second Radford player to play in the Cape, joining former Rockies relief pitcher Ryan Speier.
Tonight was the second time Butler's name has been called in the First Year Player Draft - he was selected in the 35th round (1054 overall) of the 2009 draft by the Texas Rangers out of Greenbrier Christian Academy.