Heading into Spring Training there are few teams that have as many young prospects to be excited about as the Minnesota Twins. The organization’s minor league system is stocked from top to bottom with the crown jewel of the farm system — and the top prospect in MLB as a whole — being center fielder Byron Buxton, who will be participating in the big club’s camp and will surely light a few pitchers up along the way.
Since being drafted No. 1 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft, Buxton has been on a meteoric rise to the summit of top prospects charts everywhere. During the 2012 season he saw time with two different rookie level clubs in the Twins organization which gave him valuable experience at learning the ropes of professional baseball. It also served as an opportunity to show executives what exactly he did and didn’t need to work on.
Whatever the Twins thought needed fixing in 2012 clearly was identified, worked on and corrected during the offseason as Buxton had a year for the ages in 2013. The center fielder split time between Low-A and High-A, playing in a grand total of 125 games and compiling a slash line of .334/.424/.520 with 19 doubles, 18 triples, 12 home runs and 55 stolen bases. At the ripe age of 19, this was a year that made most observers of up-and-coming prospects shake their heads in excitement of what is to come in 2014 and beyond.
This tremendous output also cemented Buxton’s spot as the No. 1 prospect in baseball, and when one considers his tremendous tools it is impossible not to see a star in the making. The epitome of a five tool prospect, the 20-year-old has the potential to contend for batting titles, hit 30 home runs a year, steal 50 bags a season and provide great range and an above average arm in the outfield. There is truly nothing he can’t do on the baseball field, and it looks inevitable that he will challenge Mike Trout for the best center fielder in the American League before long.
Unfortunately for baseball fans around the world, the upcoming spring training will only be a sneak peak at what is to come in future seasons as it seems impossible that the Twins will feature Buxton on opening day. This isn’t any sort of knock on his development but a simple ode to the fact that the team likes to take things slow with their best young talent. It is extremely rare for any player to skip from High-A straight to the majors.
Considering that Buxton is not going to be in Minnesota to begin the year, it seems all but set that he will head to the organization’s Double-A affiliate in New Britain, Conn. Before he gets this assignment back down, though, it can be expected that the center fielder will leave his mark on the Twins big league camp, and he should be back with the club for good by the end of August this year.