Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • What's the Plan: Byron Buxton

    As last year's No. 2 overall pick and the current consensus top prospect in baseball, Byron Buxton has drawn some lofty comparisons. You often hear his name mentioned alongside similarly well-rounded outfielders who dominated the minors and made a quick impact in the majors, such as Mike Trout and the Upton Brothers.

    One commonality between those three players? They all debuted in the big leagues as teenagers.

    That won't happen for Buxton, who celebrates his 20th birthday in December. The center fielder is currently playing at Class-A Ft. Myers and there's been no whisper of a possibility that he could see Target Field before season's end.

    But the organization's most prized talent also may not be as far off as some would suspect.

    In his first taste of full-season pro competition after being drafted last June, Buxton outright dominated the Midwest League this year, batting .341 with a .990 OPS in 68 games to force a promotion to the next level. In Ft. Myers, he adjusted quickly and has been no less dominant in recent weeks. His numbers over his past 25 games, dating back to late July: .413/.522/.641, three homers, two doubles, five triples, a 20:20 K/BB ratio and 17 steals.

    Those are the kinds of numbers you put up in a video game when the difficulty setting is too low. Buxton is as out of place in this league as he was in the last.

    Yet, with the season winding down (only a handful of games remain on the minor-league schedules) it makes little sense to take any sort of action right now. Almost certainly, Buxton will remain with the Miracle for the ensuing postseason run, and will then be done for the season.

    Where might he start next year? And where might he finish?

    The Aggressive Route

    We don't know yet how Buxton will handle Double-A and Triple-A… but we can probably guess. His talent is so immense that it can almost be assumed the speedy outfielder will make quick work of anything the minor leagues have to offer. Like Trout and Justin Upton before him, Buxton can learn on the job, perhaps following the same path and putting up big numbers as a 20-year-old in the majors.

    But jumping straight from Single-A to The Show is basically unprecedented in recent years, at least for hitters. Even transcendent talents like Trout, the Uptons and Bryce Harper spent at least a chunk of time in Double-A and/or Triple-A before reaching the bigs (although they reached those levels more quickly than Buxton did).

    The Twins have done much this year to shed their reputation as being conservative with promotions to a fault, but it's still nigh impossible to envision Buxton going straight to the majors next spring. The most realistically aggressive approach I can see would have him starting in Double-A with a chance to force his way into the big-league fold as early as May or June.

    The Conservative Route

    Buxton is viewed as the future centerpiece of Minnesota's outfield, but the club has much to sort out around him. Aaron Hicks should return to the mix next year, along with Oswaldo Arcia. Presently, Josh Willingham remains in line for the left field job, and moving him to DH probably won't be an option as long as Ryan Doumit is around. Meanwhile, guys like Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe remain on the fringe of the discussion.

    I bristle at the notion that the Twins should hold back an elite MLB-ready talent so that Doumit or Plouffe can get playing time in right field, but the existing outfield logjam at the very least eliminates any sense of urgency regarding Buxton's arrival.

    It's pretty tough to argue for any truly conservative approach that doesn't involve Buxton struggling in Double-A. I suppose the patient route would be leaving him in New Britain for the entire first half, regardless of his production, and moving him up to Triple-A after the All-Star break if his performance dictates. Buxton would then be in position to appear as a September call-up next year and become a full-time major-leaguer at age 21 in 2015.

    The Likely Route

    I actually believe the Twins will embrace the opportunity to move quickly with Buxton. He'll start at Double-A next year but if his performance there is anything like it's been at Low-A and High-A this season, the Twins will find room for him in their outfield before the All-Star break.

    Under normal circumstances, we wouldn't be talking about young and inexperienced players like Buxton and Miguel Sano as candidates to play in the majors. But, much like with Sano -- and perhaps even more so -- we are talking about a generational talent in Buxton, and the normal rules just don't apply here.

    And in addition to the players themselves forcing the issue, there are the realities being faced by the Twins organization. This team is amidst a third straight year of irrelevance. They need to get some of these kids on the field so that fans can see the future instead of constantly hearing about it.

    Buxton is the kind of player who will create a legitimate buzz and bring people out to the ballpark. And I believe he'll be doing it in the first half of next season.
    This article was originally published in blog: What's the Plan: Byron Buxton started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 50 Comments
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      And I'm definitely not advocating for the placating of fans, I'm offering an easy way to folllow up on the Free National Pub from sensational articles like the one from Sports Illustrated and raking in some additional revenue during the dog days of the lost 2013 season on the way to the third straight 90+ loss year- while offering glimmers of very legitimate hope on the way, and furthermore, generating additional season ticket sales for 2014 (generating this type of feel-good optimism about the near-future is not placating, it's marketing).
      What you are describing is marketing. So if the choice is between promoting Buxton for "baseball reasons" or for "marketing reasons", it's splitting hairs whether someone else chose to use the phrase "placating fans" to really mean the latter. The question being raised is whether to let the latter trump the former.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      What you are describing is marketing. So if the choice is between promoting Buxton for "baseball reasons" or for "marketing reasons", it's splitting hairs whether someone else chose to use the phrase "placating fans" to really mean the latter. The question being raised is whether to let the latter trump the former.
      That's why I said "marketing" in closing. Brock's line of thinking was something to the effect of a Moore-like panic or desperation for making the move, ie, not well-thought out in full. In baseball and revenue sports in general, it's always about both entertainment and baseball development. I think my suggested course of action takes both points of view into account, and suggests that a move like this would be bold, dynamic, but not panicky or unfounded in its theoretical underpinnings.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      Buxton needs to play some AA ball. Period. An A+ jump to the majors is irresponsible. Could he hack it? Quite possibly. Even Sano took a little time to adjust to AA. The jump from A+ to AA is often the 2nd most difficult jump to make in baseball. The jump from AAA to the majors is the largest. A+ to AA he's facing guys that are 1-3 or 4 years older, more physically mature, but also more baseball mature. He would likely get by on talent alone for a while.

      Jumping to the majors, he's facing the men that are both physically and baseball IQ wise far superior to him. Guys like Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez and Porcello are not just talented, but they are veterans. The baseball intellect of these guys can only come from experience. Talent alone will show up in spurts. He will need to really need to be mentally and emotionally ready if a call up comes in MAy or June.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I'd call him up and build his confidence if the Twins were playing a series against a bunch of low velocity, junkball tossing, AAAA starters. Trying to think.....Doh.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      That's why I said "marketing" in closing. Brock's line of thinking was something to the effect of a Moore-like panic or desperation for making the move, ie, not well-thought out in full. In baseball and revenue sports in general, it's always about both entertainment and baseball development. I think my suggested course of action takes both points of view into account, and suggests that a move like this would be bold, dynamic, but not panicky or unfounded in its theoretical underpinnings.
      Which is fair enough, I simply think that the development cycle should be based entirely on the player's needs and fan "need" shouldn't be a factor. The fans will get 6+ years of Buxton and I don't see the point in giving them 2-3 weeks right now just for the sake of doing it.

      As for Sano, as I said earlier "I'm fine with either decision". I really am... If Ryan wants him here in September, I'm fine with that. It requires 40-man finagling but nothing that should be terribly difficult to do. If he wants to see him in winter ball and prep him for 2014, I'm fine with that, too. We're going to see the guy very soon. Whether that is now or in seven months doesn't bother me too much.
    1. tju22's Avatar
      tju22 -
      Let's take a deep breath here people. Buxton's had an incredible year but hasn't even played in the AFL, which seems to be a right of passage for all top prospects.

      I also used to hate how slow it seemed the Twins moved prospects but have started to change my tune. Bringing up guys at 23-24 allows them to keep a guy under team control through 29-30 essentially the first half of their peak vs 21-22 where a guy is hitting free agency right as he hits his peak.

      Obviously that can't factor in with a potential superstar, but it has allowed for the Twins to get cheap production out of players while letting other teams overpay in free agency for 2 years of prime production and then decline.

      I got off-topic but I say let him tear up AA for a month or two, then AAA for a month, and if he's still producing, he'll force his way onto the roster.
    1. CharacterGroove's Avatar
      CharacterGroove -
      I agree that appeasing the fan base (or marketing for that matter) shouldn't be a consideration. It's all about what's best for the prospect's development, which with Buxton, obviously has a direct correlation with what's best for the Twins. Everything else falls into place after that.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      29-30 is not the peak, that's 1970s thinking......actually, the peak years are younger. There are many articles on line about elite talents, and when they should be up....and 23/4 is LATE for elite players.
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      I agree with Jokin on this. I don't think he should be rushed and I'm not impatiently waiting for his MLB debut. However, I think he could really benefit for a couple weeks in the majors in September, and I also agree with Jokin, again, those few weeks will not damage him in anyway. Next season he can start in AA. There is no rule stating that, if you ended the year on the major league roster, you must start the next season on the major league roster. Let him see what the majors are about, and then in the spring, management can judge based on the previous September and his ST if he could break camp with the big club. I'm not saying it is going to happen or that he will continue to rake but if he adjusts quickly to the MLB like he did at A and A+ than what is the point of him getting sent to AA or AAA? Just because that is the norm? Buxton is the kind of player like Joe that you sign and keep for most if not all of his career. A year difference in team control should make no difference. Again, if he doesn't adjust quick there is no harm in him going to AA to start next season. But give him a chance to show if he's ready now.

      I also like to say that I am completely confused by people's shock that Hicks struggled. It was well stated by most everyone that he was going to be near awful if not awful in the majors before the season started. He has a history of taking a longer time than most to adjust to a new level/challenge. We all new this yet for some reason people didn't seem to expect it once the season started. He should have just stayed up and struggled. He confidence wasn't going to get any worse. He has gone through this at every level, now it starts all over in AAA. That might hurt his confidence even more than letting him stay with the Twins.
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      Also, if Sano comes up there is no reason not to have Rosario up. I still think that he will need the lesser amount of grooming between the two of them.
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      Just want to say I love this series and the passionate discussion it stirs up. Hopefully I'm not playing spoiler, but are you guys planning on doing a overall "what's the the plan" I.e. a look at who will be playing where/pitching in the rotation in 2014/15?
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      Having heard about Buxton's work ethic, I would think it would be exciting for him to play a couple weeks playing against the best at the highest level, see what he has to do to be one of those best, and spend the offseason relentlessly working on those things.

      The 40-man roster issue is almost a non-starter for me, however the service time might be a big enough hurdle that Terry Ryan doesn't want to have to hop over.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by orangevening View Post
      Just want to say I love this series and the passionate discussion it stirs up. Hopefully I'm not playing spoiler, but are you guys planning on doing a overall "what's the the plan" I.e. a look at who will be playing where/pitching in the rotation in 2014/15?
      Great point, orange. Kudos to whomever at TD who came up with the concept for this series, it's easily about the best thing going on Twins Daily at this point in the season.

      A grand summation article after a set of articles that focus on who and what's next for the Twins pitching staff can keep this good conversation going. We've all breathed a collective sigh of relief on Alex Meyer and he was well-covered in this series, but who else has a shot at making an impact on the Twins staff in 2014 and going forward soon thereafter?
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      29-30 is not the peak, that's 1970s thinking......actually, the peak years are younger. There are many articles on line about elite talents, and when they should be up....and 23/4 is LATE for elite players.
      Well, 26-28 are generally the peak seasons. Guys like Buxton who has speed as a primary weapon can tail off significantly but it looks like Byron has enough of a bat where losing a step won't crush him.

      Either way, he's going to be up here as a 22 year old at the very latest. That means the Twins will lose arb control somewhere around 28-29, which is just "past" his prime.
    1. iastfan112's Avatar
      iastfan112 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      29-30 is not the peak, that's 1970s thinking......actually, the peak years are younger. There are many articles on line about elite talents, and when they should be up....and 23/4 is LATE for elite players.
      Baseball Prospectus | How Do Baseball Players Age?
      Hitters Age Like Wine ? Power Like Cheese? | FanGraphs Baseball

      Both indicate that the 28-29 season is part of the peak, admittedly the latter half. Given from what I've read the most valuable seasons to have control of are 24-29. Peak is actually around 29-30 for hitters if the player stays healthy but that's hardly a given.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Well, 26-28 are generally the peak seasons. Guys like Buxton who has speed as a primary weapon can tail off significantly but it looks like Byron has enough of a bat where losing a step won't crush him.

      Either way, he's going to be up here as a 22 year old at the very latest. That means the Twins will lose arb control somewhere around 28-29, which is just "past" his prime.
      I think that is the wrong way to look at it. Guys whose primary weapon is speed will tail off, but Buxton obviously has a strong hit tool (and other tools as well). Athletic guys with plus hit tools and plate discipline age the best.

      I really think Buxton is about as close as one can come to the perfect prospect. I also think the thought of calling him up this year is insanity.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I think that is the wrong way to look at it. Guys whose primary weapon is speed will tail off, but Buxton obviously has a strong hit tool (and other tools as well). Athletic guys with plus hit tools and plate discipline age the best.

      I really think Buxton is about as close as one can come to the perfect prospect. I also think the thought of calling him up this year is insanity.
      I was right with you to the last word of the last sentence, but then again, it's incredibly hot and sticky outside and those that wouldn't be opposed to letting Buxton taking a look at major league life and accepting the infinitely small risk in putting him on the roster a little earlier than next July when he's likely called up anyway may very well be suffering from a mass case of heat stroke and weather-mania.... and after all that being said, I will be happy to defer to your point, you are the "doctor"
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      I wouldn't be surprised to see both Buxton and Sano here just prior to the All-Star game. I also wouldn't be shocked to see it right after. Depends on how well the organization thinks they can handle the throng of national press in town for the game.

      At very least they would probably be in the Futures Game again, and may stick around afterwards.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I'm in the opposite camp here.
      I want the Twins to play the service time game long and slow with both Buxton and Sano.
      I see no chance of competing next year so want to delay their MLB debuts as long as possible.
      June or July 2014 for Sano assuming he does well in AAA next year
      June 2015 for Buxton.
      Hopefully that will give the organization enough time to figure out its starting pitching problems.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
      I wouldn't be surprised to see both Buxton and Sano here just prior to the All-Star game. I also wouldn't be shocked to see it right after. Depends on how well the organization thinks they can handle the throng of national press in town for the game.

      At very least they would probably be in the Futures Game again, and may stick around afterwards.
      This is what I'm thinking on Buxton, with Sano possibly up before.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.