• TD Twins Top Prospects: #2 Byron Buxton

    Age: 19 (DOB: 12/18/93)
    2012 Stats
    Rookie: .248/.344/.429, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 33 R, 11/14 SB
    ETA: 2016

    Yesterday, when writing about Minnesota Twins #3 prospect Aaron Hicks, Nick wrote “When it comes to physical tools, Aaron Hicks is tough to top.” If there is anyone in the Twins organization that could, it will be fellow outfielder Byron Buxton.

    At 6-2 and 180 pounds, Buxton is a tremendous five-tool athlete. Although he was a prospect on a national stage throughout his high school career, he made a name for himself when he put on a batting practice display at the 2011 Under Armour All-America game. As a senior, he hit .545/.649/.852 with 35 stolen bases in 36 attempts. While Hicks was taken with the 14th overall pick in 2008, Buxton was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft.

    Deemed the best player available in the draft, he signed fairly quickly to a $6 million signing bonus ($200K under slot), the highest signing bonus of the year.

    When the Twins drafted him with the second pick, he was sent to Ft. Myers to prepare to start his professional career. A couple of weeks later, he debuted with the GCL Twins. He missed time with a hamstring strain, but in 27 games, he hit .216/.324/.466 (.789). He hit four doubles, three triples and four home runs. On August 6th, he and fellow 2012 1st round pick and Twins Daily #8 prospect JO Berrios were promoted to Elizabethton. With the E-Twins, he hit .286/.368/.429 with six doubles, a triple and a home run. He also stole seven bases in seven attempts and patrolled centerfield for the Appalachian League champions. Following the season, Baseball America named him the top prospect in both the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League.



    The Good

    Knowing how important the #2 overall pick was to the future of the organization, VP of Player Personnel, Mike Radcliff, was heavily involved in the scouting and the draft. Regarding Buxton, Radcliff said, “He has high-end physical tools, and the ceiling to impact the game in all phases.

    Regarding Buxton’s first go-‘round in professional baseball, Radcliff called it “successful” and added, “For a young prospect, he handled the rigors of pro baseball and established himself in the development process.”

    Twins Director of Minor League Operations Brad Steil added, “Byron showed his impressive athletic ability and tools. He got off to a slow start in the GCL, but he handled himself well and made adjustments to pro ball, and that’s really what the first year is all about.”

    Byron Buxton has all of the tools. He can hit, and despite his slender frame, he has a ton of power potential. He can run. In fact, according to Jeremy Nygaard’s profile in the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2013, “his speed is eye-popping too as one scout measured him at 3.89 seconds from home to first base. That time matched Bo Jackson for the fastest out of the batter’s box for a right-handed hitter.” He once tagged up and scored from second base on a routine fly ball to right field.His speed also can be demonstrated in centerfield where he gets to balls that most wouldn’t. He has a very strong arm which is illustrated by a 98-mph fastball that he used to strikeout 18 batters in seven innings in the Georgia AA state championship game in 2012. Unlike Hicks, who was clocked with a 97-mph fastball in high school and was scouted by most pro teams as a pitching prospect, Buxton has been viewed solely as an outfielder.
    What are his best tools?

    Steil says, “His speed and arm strength are easy to see. You can also see that he’s a professional kid and a good worker.”

    According to Radcliff, “His bat’s speed is unique. He is a top-of-the-scale runner. His arm and defensive skills are special.”

    Along with his great tools, scouts were just as impressed with his competitiveness, his makeup and his great family.

    The Bad

    The toughest part about toolsy high school draft picks is that it often takes time and patience for those tools to turn into skills. A FanGraphs article warned Twins fans from thinking that Buxton will move up terribly quickly. It used fellow-toolsy outfield pick Aaron Hicks as the comparison.

    Most scouts tend to believe that the “hit” tool is the one that Buxton will struggle with most. In 189 rookie-league plate appearances, Buxton struckout 41 times. Over 600 plate appearances, that would equate to 130 strikeouts.

    As Steil noted, “As with most high school drafts, learning how to take professional at bats and make adjustments will be the biggest challenge, but he did show a pretty good feel for the strike zone for and 18-year-old."

    Radcliff agreed, “As is the case with any young prospect, the development of his hit approach will dictate his advancement and ultimate performance ceiling.”

    It’s impossible to know how an 18-year-old with a ton of talent, athleticism and tools will turn out as a big leaguer. There is the fact that baseball is not exactly an easy game.

    Radcliff added, “Buck’s challenge for 2013 is to continue to develop his skills and realize that importance of maintaining his body and respect the game.”

    The Bottom Line

    Byron Buxton fits the long line of high Twins draft picks who are immensely talented and athletic. As has been the case with most of them, patience will be a virtue for the player, the organization and for the Twins’ fans. There is a chance that he will spend the 2013 season in the Twins’ new Midwest League affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, though that is not a given.

    According to Steil, “I think Cedar Rapids is realistic to start the season. We’ll see how spring training goes and we’ll do what we think is best for Byron’s development.

    As the FanGraphs article concluded, “For all of the questions surrounding the development of Aaron Hicks, it now appears the Twins were correct to move him slowly. Buxton may need to be treated with the same kid gloves. This leaves Minnesota as the perfect landing spot for the teenage phenom.”

    When asked how good Buxton can be, most believe that his floor is BJ Upton. Yes, the same BJ Upton who just signed a 5 year, $75.25 million free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves. When asked about his ceiling, many say that he has the ability to be as good as guys like Justin Upton ad Matt Kemp while the name of Andrew McCutchen continues to pop up.

    Radcliff remarked, “At this stage of his development, there are no limits. Our organizational hallmarks of patience and attention to detail will all him to dictate his own advancement.”

    Steil added, “He certainly has the tools to be a very good defensive centerfielder and an impact type of player in the Major Leagues. Keep in mind that he’s only entering his first full professional season, so the focus will be on skill development and helping him learn the game.”

    The Twins wanted to be sure about that #2 pick. In fact, the Twins sent 11 scouts to see Buxton play at Appling County High School, a small town with incredible humidity in outstate Georgia. However, fans of the high school baseball team showed up to watch Buxton and his teammates.

    In conclusion, Mr. Radcliff pointed out, “Our scouts had the conviction in their projections to believe he can be a franchise player."


    [TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #10: Max Kepler]
    [TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #9: Trevor May]
    [TD's Top Ten Prospects: #8: J. O. Berrios]
    [TD's Top Ten Prospects: #7 Eddie Rosario]
    [TD's Top Ten Prospects: #6 Kyle Gibson]
    [TD's Top Ten Prospects: #5 Alex Meyer]
    [TD's Top Ten Prospects: #4 Oswaldo Arcia]
    [TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #3 Aaron Hicks]
    This article was originally published in blog: TD Twins Top Prospects: #2 Byron Buxton started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. tjsyam921's Avatar
      tjsyam921 -
      Seth, It seems the E-Twins have a lot of success every year. What is the biggest reason behind this? Good players, coaching, lesser opponents, or what? Heres to hoping "Buck" can Buck the trend and move through the system fast and be a young MLB stud like the Upton's.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Wow. I knew he was a great prospect, but now that I know he has the nickname of Buck, well, that is just too much. That was always the nickname I wanted people to call me.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      Seth, It seems the E-Twins have a lot of success every year. What is the biggest reason behind this? Good players, coaching, lesser opponents, or what? Heres to hoping "Buck" can Buck the trend and move through the system fast and be a young MLB stud like the Upton's.
      I used to think it was because they had older players, but as I've looked the last few years, their hitters have been generally younger than league average and the pitchers have been right at about league average. so, it can't be that. I would say they get good coaching and that one of their focuses is on helping the players adjust to being professional and all that entails very well. The last time the Twins had a pick as high as #2 was when they took Mauer in the 2001 draft. He flew through the system and was starting on Opening Day 2004. Different people, positions, games, etc., but the Twins won't be afraid to advance him quickly if he's ready.
    1. syves's Avatar
      syves -
      Quote Originally Posted by tjsyam921 View Post
      Seth, It seems the E-Twins have a lot of success every year. What is the biggest reason behind this? Good players, coaching, lesser opponents, or what? Heres to hoping "Buck" can Buck the trend and move through the system fast and be a young MLB stud like the Upton's.
      Normally, their an older, more polished team, but I think the last couple years that the team has been younger than the league average however. The E-twins have good coaches.

      Twins Daily - What is Average?
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Really like the new signing date that allowed him to get some time in last season instead of waiting a year like Bubba Starling did.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I want to see him play a full season before I project him higher than Hicks and Arcia, who have been very good at AA.

      Is that CR OF going to be Kepler-Buxton-Walker-Williams? Good grief that makes Iowa a good destination for a change (my apologies to JC).
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Han Joelo View Post
      Wow. I knew he was a great prospect, but now that I know he has the nickname of Buck, well, that is just too much. That was always the nickname I wanted people to call me.
      Me too. "Hi, call me Buck." "Yeah, sure, Foureyes."
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Really like the new signing date that allowed him to get some time in last season instead of waiting a year like Bubba Starling did.
      I think this is so important to the players' development. that was a great decision.
    1. Pius Jefferson's Avatar
      Pius Jefferson -
      Not end of the world but I'd love to see Buxton dominate from day one of the season. Good enough that he could see time in high A.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Are we sure he's starting in Cedar Rapids?
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Not sure, but sure he will spend a lot of time in CR. At least, he better.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      I want to see him play a full season before I project him higher than Hicks and Arcia, who have been very good at AA.

      Is that CR OF going to be Kepler-Buxton-Walker-Williams? Good grief that makes Iowa a good destination for a change (my apologies to JC).
      Yep, probably gonna have to go check out the Kernels this summer. Could have Vargas too?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mnfanforlife View Post
      Yep, probably gonna have to go check out the Kernels this summer. Could have Vargas too?
      Vargas needs to be playing 1B at Ft. Myers in 2013.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Vargas needs to be playing 1B at Ft. Myers in 2013.
      Yeah, he is getting old
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      OK. Moved it to here

      Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy Nygaard View Post
      Its all "arguable". He could fall completely on his face, sure.

      I'm not sure why you continue to talk about his lack of power. He didn't hit them as a high school senior, I get that. He did finish 2nd in the HR Derby at the UA game, not a game situation but still "power". He also hit 4 HRs in 88 at-bats in the GCL. Sano had 4 in 148 at-bats in the GCL in 2010. (Arcia had 5 in 167 at-bats at 18.) I get that Sano was a year younger, but that's his major tool. You can point to small sample-sizes. To which I would refer you back to the small sample size that you're basing this argument on. Buxton is a legit five-tool prospect. He's also only 19. Let's dream on him a little bit and continue this discussion on the Buxton thread.

      In fairness, I didn't put Buxton #1 on my own prospect list because he's so far away from his ceiling. I think he can be a 30/30 guy that plays plus-plus D with a plus-plus arm. That's a ceiling I wouldn't have put on anyone in my lifetime as a Twins fan. Will he be that guy? Who knows...
      That in bold tells me Marty Cordova

      From that previous discussion, Puckett, Carew, Oliva were better. The Killer did not have any speed or much defense, but I would take the equivalent of 60+ HR a season these days-equivalent from a 1B/DH over a 30/30 guy. And 30/30 changed during the ages. A lot.

      As far as his power and ever his hitting goes, please have a look at what Morneau did at the same age at the same leagues. OK Morneau's speed is not there and he was a below average 1st baseman and you don't need an arm if you play 1B, but this does not mean that Morneau was not a better prospect or Sano is a better prospect (they both are.) And to compare him to the 3 Twins' grown HOFers (and Oliva and Hrbek) is way premature.
    1. Jeremy Nygaard's Avatar
      Jeremy Nygaard -
      There's a difference between "these are the greatest Twins of all time" and "these are the guys who had the greatest potential at 18". I'll stand by my statement that Buxton fits into the latter category. I'll agree that some guys probably fit into both categories. Teams don't pass on guys that fit into the second category. And for every Oliva (or Carew or Puckett or whoever) there is a Brien Taylor (or 30).

      Hindsight's 20/20. Foresight is a little better than 20/200.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      That in bold tells me Marty Cordova

      From that previous discussion, Puckett, Carew, Oliva were better. The Killer did not have any speed or much defense, but I would take the equivalent of 60+ HR a season these days-equivalent from a 1B/DH over a 30/30 guy. And 30/30 changed during the ages. A lot.

      As far as his power and ever his hitting goes, please have a look at what Morneau did at the same age at the same leagues. OK Morneau's speed is not there and he was a below average 1st baseman and you don't need an arm if you play 1B, but this does not mean that Morneau was not a better prospect or Sano is a better prospect (they both are.) And to compare him to the 3 Twins' grown HOFers (and Oliva and Hrbek) is way premature.
      Marty Cordova was never a 30/30 guy, he managed 20/20 once. Buxton showed more power than Morneau at the same age.

      I think Jeremy's point - that Buxton could be the toolsiest Twins prospect ever - is valid. It's way early to dream on him and you certainly wouldn't bet on him to have a HOF type career but if absolutely everything goes right (a big if) he could put up Oliva's offensive production while playing elite CF defense.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Minor league baseball is littered with guys who were 5 tool prospects and never made it to the show (or failed miserably when they made it). People around here are talking Buxton up like he's Bryce Harper or something like that. I don't get it. He was a top prospect in a very weak draft. In a stronger draft, he doesn't go 2 overall. He might not crack the top 10 in a strong draft. There were concerns about him when he was drafted, namely that he hadn't faced much in terms of competition and that he was incredibly raw. I get that he's a toolsy guy that could be the next Matt Kemp. He could also, as Thrylos so aptly pointed out, be the next Marty Cordova... and right now, he's got a better chance of being Cordova than being Kemp.

      This is why I do not get the hype, especially when people are largely ignoring a guy doing everything that we hope Buxton will do. Buxton is at the very least four years out, and unless he puts up Ruthian numbers in Elizabethon/Cedar Rapids next year, he's going to get replaced by the next big name by this time next year.

      I hope I'm wrong.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      True, most of us are down a bit from several months of winter, 2 consectutive losing seasons by the Twins, and an unsatisfying off-season. It is natural to grasp for "some good news", and the "prospect list qualifies". But, we do need to temper things when we are told "happy news". "Tools" they do sound great, but most have a garage full of them, but that doesn't a craftsman make (much less an artist). To say: "They are projections", and "expectations"--not formed by an extesive body-of-work. Hey, most parents have immense projections for their kids--yeah, we know things don't always work out. Is Buxton a "Top Ten Guy"? I hope so, but color me skeptical. When I heard he had only hit 2HRs in High School (small schools too!), well I wasn't too impressed--but I hope I'm wrong and he does become the next Tony Oliva.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Bubba starling went #5 in one of the deepest drafts in the past 20 years. Callis/mayo, among other spec experts, have called Buxton a better spec than Bubba. While Buxton went #2 last year he was considered by most to be the best prospect in the draft. Looking at the draft talent this year there is a good chance, if he was in it, he would be the #1 spec again. That's pretty impressive in my book.
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