Butler heats up as he prepares to leave

Wichita's Billy Butler is on fire again. After going 2-for-5 on Wednesday with a game-winning RBI double, Butler now leads the Texas League with a .328 BA and 149 hits. He also collected his 90th RBI on Wednesday, which is the league's second highest total. But even more interesting is that Butler has now collected two or more hits in seven straight games, hitting .484 in the process.

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On Monday, Butler also slammed his first two home runs since July 14, and he added another on Tuesday. During his current eight-game hitting streak, Butler has recorded six extra base hits while knocking in 12 runs and scoring eight.

A scout who's seen Butler extensively once explained to RC that Butler might have a bad at bat every once in a while, but he always finds a way to come back and get a hit. When RC spoke with Butler in July, he explained the approach he takes to the plate:

"I have a certain approach which a lot of big leaguers probably have, which is that you don't give at bats away and you don't swing at a pitch that's not yours unless you have to. And that keeps you from swinging at something that you have no business swinging at early in the count. If you're looking for a certain pitch, you shouldn't swing for another one early in the count…It's all about just being a smart hitter."


Butler is 15-for-31 (.484) in his last seven games

Indeed, it's a tried and true approach, and it's kept Butler from falling victim to prolonged slumps throughout his professional career. He's garnered a reputation as the Texas League's best hitting prospect, and even more encouraging, Butler's defense has reportedly improved to the point that many scouts are more optimistic than ever that he might one day play a passable outfield.


Butler works tirelessly on his outfield defense, which has reportedly improved

Of course, Butler's Double-A season is likely to end shortly, as he's planning to leave in the next week to report to Team USA, which will travel to Cuba to begin play in the Olympic qualifying tournament for the Western Hemisphere. We were told by Wranglers sources that Butler was scheduled to leave "on the weekend of the 11th," but we later heard that Wranglers' manager Frank White plans on Butler being gone from August 16 through September 5 -- either way, he'll soon depart the team. The tournament begins on August 21, and barring an untimely exit by Team USA or a playoff berth by the Wranglers (which at this point seems likely), Butler this week may say 'goodbye' to Wichita for good. Regardless, it will be hard to look back on Butler's 2006 as anything but a big step forward to Kansas City.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow, as we plan to discuss the progress and future of Zack Greinke, who was again dominant in Wednesday's win over the San Antonio Missions.
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