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Drew Butera

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Andrew Edward Butera

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The son of big leaguer Sal Butera, catcher Drew Butera was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school in the 48th round of the 2002 amateur draft but did not sign. He was then chosen by the New York Mets in the fifth round of the 2005 amateur draft after hitting .320 as a junior at Central Florida (he did not make All-Atlantic Sun Conference). He made his pro debut that summer with the Brooklyn Cyclones, hitting .217/.305/.297 in 55 games. He struggled somewhat with the glove as well, leading all New York-Penn League catchers with 12 errors (he also led with 8 double plays). He also threw out 47% of attempted base-stealers, though.

He spent 2006 with the Hagerstown Suns, batting only .186/.297/.281 with 55 hits in 95 games (with 5 of those hits coming in a single game against the Delmarva Shorebirds on June 10th). He had 21 passed balls and 9 errors in 95 games. He turned 14 double plays, though, leading South Atlantic League catchers.

Butera began the 2007 season with the St. Lucie Mets and hit .258/.348/.418 with 5 homers and 22 RBIs in 52 games there before being promoted to the Binghamton Mets in late June and hitting .186/.208/.231 in 30 games. On July 30th, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins along with Dustin Martin for Luis Castillo and went on to hit .260/.327/.360 in 17 games with the New Britain Rock Cats.

He returned to New Britain to start the next year and hit .219/.308/.354. He had improved his glovework by now, fielding .991 and cutting his passed ball total to 10 in 92 games. In fact, Baseball America named him the top defensive backstop in the Eastern League, which he led with 645 putouts.

In 2009, Butera continued to show a weak bat but strong glove, producing at a .211/.268/.292 rate in 99 games for the Rochester Red Wings. He threw out 41.7% of attempted base-thieves, second in the International League. He did tie Robinson Cancel for the passed ball lead in the IL with 14, but Baseball America ranked him as the top defensive catcher in the circuit.

Butera made his major league debut with the Twins in 2010, making the club as the backup to Joe Mauer. He had hit .214/.296/.317 in 444 games in the minors to that point, indicating that his glove won him the job. In his MLB debut, he got the start ahead of Mauer but struck out three times against John Danks. In his 4th trip to the plate, he executed a sacrifice hit against fellow rookie Sergio Santos. Mauer pinch-hit for him the next time up.

Blessed with a great arm, Butera has been used as a pitcher in the majors on a few occasions, always in a mop-up role in a blowout. The first of these came with the Twins on May 20, 2012 when he pitched a scoreless inning in a 16-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2014, the Los Angeles Dodgers called on him twice in the span of a few days, the first coming against the Miami Marlins on May 14th in a 13-3 loss, when he added another scoreless inning to his record. On May 17th, however, he gave up a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks after taking over for Chris Perez with one out in the 8th; the two runs made the final score 18-7 for Arizona, as they set team records for extra-base hits and runs scored in a game. Drew's father Sal had also pitched in the majors, making it to the mound twice in similar circumstances. On May 25th, he caught Josh Beckett's 6-0 no-hitter over the Philadelphia Phillies; in spite of his limited starting opportunities over his career, it was the second such game he had caught, as he had also been behind the plate when Francisco Liriano pitched a no-hitter for the Twins on May 3, 2011. He was again behind the plate for Beckett's next start on May 30th, where his opponent, coincidentally, was Liriano, now pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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