When the Minnesota Twins drafted Byron Buxton with the second overall pick in the 2012 amateur baseball draft, the organization had very high hopes for the young outfielder. After his first season in the minor league system, which was spent in the rookie league, Buxton got off to a slow start as he hit .248 with five HR and 20 RBI in 48 games. Those aren’t horrible numbers for a kid drafted out of high school, but they were a little underwhelming by everyone’s standards, including Buxton’s.
Going into 2013, Baseball America named Buxton as their number 10 overall prospect in all of baseball. This spring, Buxton was also able to see limited action with the Twins’ big league club as he played in one game going 1-4 with three runs scored, one walk and two stolen bases. Not too shabby for a player who hadn’t played above the rookie league prior to this season. The Twins try to reward some of their top young talent by letting them play in a spring training game with the big league club to see how they measure up to big league talent. They also use it as a carrot to motivate the younger players to continue to develop. Although Buxton was solid in his debut game in spring training, it was by no means a try out to see if he can make the team.
Buxton still has a very bright future ahead of him and this season is only furthering the perception that this kid could develop into one of the top outfielders in all of baseball. Buxton is batting leadoff and hitting .600 with one HR and three RBI following Sunday’s 4-5 performance in Cedar Rapids’ 9-1 victory. In that game, Buxton came up a homerun short of the cycle. If Buxton can continue to hit at the level he is at right now, I would not be surprised to see him reach high Single-A in Fort Myers or even possibly Double-A in New Britain.
The question likely on Twins’ fans mind is when they can expect Buxton in the majors. To be honest with you, I don’t think Buxton will make his major league debut until April of 2015. I can foresee a scenario where Buxton would get a September call-up, along with mega prospect Miguel Sano, late next season, but I feel the Twins will wait for both to debut in 2015.
It may seem like light-years away now, but Buxton will be here before you know it. The Twins need to continue to be patient with their young prospects because their development is important to the future of the franchise. They should be handled delicately and with great patience. The Twins have done a great job of this with past prospects like Joe Mauer and I fully expect them to do the same with Buxton. Buxton has the type of tools to be a 20 HR/20 SB player for the Twins who will consistently hit near or above .300. The rate at which Buxton develops those skills will ultimately determine how soon he reaches the majors.
Buxton’s debut may only be two years away; but once he reaches the majors, I believe he’ll be here for good.