Q&A: No. 11 prospect Butler talks childhood, Michael Harris, 'New Oakland'
MESA, Ariz. -- Between his fun personality and energetic display on the field, Lawrence Butler has been without question the most interesting man in A’s camp.
Butler’s penchant for going viral through social media with his exciting style of play has turned him into a phenomenon among A’s fans. Entering Sunday’s game against the Padres, Oakland’s No. 11 prospect was 10-for-18 (.556) in Cactus League play, leading the team in hits, doubles (four) and RBIs (nine).
More importantly, the 22-year-old outfielder has gained a fan in manager Mark Kotsay.
“Lawrence has come in and really left an impression all around,” Kotsay said. “I see a lot of myself when I was 22 coming to Major League camp and wanting to leave an impression. He’s definitely done that already. … The excitement. The enthusiasm. It’s fun to watch.”
In this prospect Q&A, get to know Butler.
MLB.com: Growing up in Atlanta, what was your introduction to baseball?
Butler: I started playing when I was three years old at my local park -- Sandtown Park, which is like two minutes from my house. For that park, mainly it was football and baseball. We had an Opening Day every year for baseball and all that.
MLB.com: Were there any other sports you tried?
Butler: I played every sport. Soccer, basketball, football, baseball. I stopped playing soccer when I was like five, though. I didn’t like that. But I played football all the way to eighth grade and basketball until ninth grade.
MLB.com: What made you decide to focus on baseball?
Butler: I liked it more, and that was the only sport you could get drafted out of high school at the time. I didn’t really want to go to college, so that made it an easy decision.
MLB.com: You came up through the Marquis Grissom Baseball Association. What was it like to get to learn from a former big leaguer like that?
Butler: I started playing with Marquis when I was 15. Him just teaching us the game at a young age helped us be a little more advanced than other players because we were getting pro knowledge from this superstar at 15 years old.
MLB.com: A lot of guys you played with there have gone on to get drafted. How cool has it been to see that development?
Butler: There’s a lot of guys from our travel ball team that got drafted all in the same year. Taj Bradley, Michael Harris, Cabrera Weaver, Kelvin Smith, and that was just on our travel ball team. The park I grew up playing in, there’s more kids now that are in pro ball. I call Atlanta the mecca of baseball now. We’re taking over.
MLB.com: I heard you and Michael Harris II go way back. When did that relationship start?
Butler: I’m from the west side of Atlanta and Mike is from the east side, so our parks would always play each other in the championship game since we were like four years old. I’ve been playing with and against him my whole life.
MLB.com: What has it been like to see him shining with the hometown Braves?
Butler: It was crazy. I knew he was going to do it because I work out with him all the time. I watched him his whole life. It was just a matter of time. He got the opportunity and took off with it. Especially being from Atlanta, that was crazy.
MLB.com: Based on your music selections in the clubhouse, it’s clear you’re a big rap fan. Who are your top five current Atlanta rappers?
Butler: First, I’ve got to go with Young Thug. Then I’ll go Future. I’m gonna go Lil Baby, and then NoCap, who is probably my favorite right now. If I can pick one more, it would be NBA YoungBoy.
MLB.com: Going through your first big league camp, what has been the biggest takeaway so far?
Butler: Just talking with Tony Kemp, Seth Brown and those guys, the biggest thing they preach to me is just be myself. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not. Don’t try to do too much and get out of your comfort zone. Do what you’ve been doing to get here and it will all handle itself.
MLB.com: Lastly, you discussed "The New Oakland" with all the young guys coming up through the system. Your energy on the field and overall vibes already seem to be a big hit with fans this spring. What is your message to A’s fans who are just starting to get to know you?
Butler: Your tickets are going to be worth buying. That’s what I’d like to tell the A’s fans. You will not be wasting your money coming to see us play.