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  • Bang For Your Buxton

    Five-tool potential? Check.

    Comparisons to all-time greats like Bo Jackson and Willie Mays? Check.

    Classic baseball name? Check.

    Yep, Byron Buxton seems to have everything you'd hope for in a top pick. Now he just needs to turn his elite tools into production on the professional stage – something the last high-profile prep outfielder drafted by the Twins has failed to do thus far.

    The comparisons to Aaron Hicks were inevitable from the moment Buxton's name was mentioned as a potential target at No. 2. Both were center fielders with off-the-charts athleticism. Both did some pitching for their high school teams, with a fastball clocking in the high 90s. And both had the kind of upside with the bat that makes scouts drool.

    Hicks impressed the folks at Baseball America so much with his tools and potential that after the 2009 season they ranked him as the 19th-best prospect in all of baseball, despite the fact that his numbers in Beloit that year were thoroughly mediocre (.735 OPS, 4 HR, 10 SB in 67 G).

    Unfortunately, three years later the 2008 first-rounder hasn't taken the kind of steps those analysts believed he would. He dropped to No. 45 on BA's list after a good-not-great encore season in the Midwest League in 2010, and fell off the Top 100 completely after hitting .242 with five homers in Ft. Myers last season.

    Currently, the 22-year-old Hicks is hitting .247 in New Britain and his ability to take walks – heretofore his primary asset – continues to deteriorate. The switch-hitting outfielder certainly shouldn't be labeled a bust, but at this point his upside looks more like solid regular than star.

    Hicks and Buxton are different people and one man's journey has no bearing on another. Still, the slow and frustrating path that Hicks has followed serves as a cautionary tale when it comes to the organization's latest blockbuster addition.

    The questions that surrounded Hicks when the Twins selected him 14th overall in '08 were the same ones that generally surround any teenager drafted out of high school, and they are the same ones now attached to Buxton: How will those immense physical attributes play out when he goes from facing crummy high school hurlers to imposing professionals?

    Fortunately, Buxton's tools are a notch above those of Hicks, not to mention every other position player that was involved in this year's draft (with the possible exception of No. 1 pick Carlos Correa). As an 18-year-old with a long way to go before reaching the majors, Buxton is a gamble, especially considering that the Twins passed on a number of highly rated pitchers to take him, but with his otherworldly speed, his sweet right-handed swing and his cannon arm he seems exceedingly well equipped for the challenge ahead.

    And coupled with Miguel Sano, he injects more excitement into the Twins' farm system than we've seen in a very long time.
    This article was originally published in blog: Bang For Your Buxton started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      Tori Hunter's AA stats would have projected him as a 4th outfielder at best. Hicks may end up being a bust but i wouldn't be suprised if the light goes on soon and the understanding of playing professional baseball catches up with his physical tools.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      your .370 OBP would make him the 3rd best CF in all of MLB in terms of OBP. You really think that? It would be 24th best OBP for all of MLB. If that were true, sign me up with gold glove defense. But what are the odds of that, really?
      Keep in mind the caveat I applied of "at his peak", which means in his best statistical seasons, not over a career.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Well his BB% has dropped from 17 to 15 to 13 the past three years, and his K/BB ratios – which were once close to even – are now closer to 2:1. His plate discipline numbers still aren't terrible, but they aren't headed in the right direction.
      I guess I'm not as concerned about a 2% drop-off in walk rate when moving up a level as you. The on-base-percentage is still translating.
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Good analysis Nick, There is one major difference between Buxton and Hicks, about $4.5mm or so. Personally, I was hoping the Twins would get a stud starter with the #2 pick. Unfortunately, that guy wasn't out there.

      One question I do have, do people think that Appel dropped to 8th because of Scott Boras?
    1. gumspitter3's Avatar
      gumspitter3 -
      I know you guys are skeptical about Buxton's power numbers. With all the spotlight on him early, he took a lot of walks. As playoff time came around. Instead of getting intentionally walked he would get pitched around and He was moved to the leadoff spot early in this high school season. He went from an RBI guy to a get on base and help the team guy. In fact he led off teh last game of the state dhampionship series with a bunt. Trust me, this kid has the power. He may not have Mark McGwire "swing for the fence" power but he is best known for his blazing speed. He will be a top of the order guy, not a big RBI producer.

      He is a very exciting player to watch and hopefully he can live up to his billing. I don't think he got drafted on his power ability. It remains to be seen how well this kid can play at the next level.
    1. maxisagod's Avatar
      maxisagod -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      Good analysis Nick, There is one major difference between Buxton and Hicks, about $4.5mm or so. Personally, I was hoping the Twins would get a stud starter with the #2 pick. Unfortunately, that guy wasn't out there.

      One question I do have, do people think that Appel dropped to 8th because of Scott Boras?
      Partly, I think there were 2 groups on Draft Day. Teams who thought Appel was the #1 pitcher out there, and teams who thought he was in the top 3 or 4. Appel passed by Baltimore, Kansas City, San Diego because teams thought he wasn't much better then the rest and harder to sign (Boras). The others past on him to save money for later in the draft or their was a position player they liked better. Boras plays hard ball, which means sometimes he gets hit hard too.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post

      One question I do have, do people think that Appel dropped to 8th because of Scott Boras?
      Many people have been saying that, and that he was asking for too much money.
    1. Mchans24's Avatar
      Mchans24 -
      Boras has ruined as many careers as he's helped. Hicks was actually compared a lot to Daryl Strawberry when he was drafted. Not sure if that was because he is a long and lanky African American from California or not? I honestly think he will be a good player in the big leagues. Will he be a perennial all star? Probably not. These really athletic high school kids do take a little longer to develop so I don't think it is time to panic. Joe Benson fans should probably panic. Button has a ton of power as is evidenced in the bomb he hit with a wood bat at wrigley. He may fly through the minors, more likely he is in the big leagues at 22/23. I would love to see an outfield with him, Hicks and Revere!! They could cover some ground!! I like the pick because there was No clear cut ace quality pitcher in this draft.
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