It’s not news to any Twins fan – whether they’re a die-hard or casual follower of the team – that Byron Buxton is having a ridiculous 2013 season. In his first full year as a professional he hit 0.341/.431/.559 in 68 games with Cedar Rapids and 0.400/.419/.467 in his first seven games since being promoted to Fort Myers. The 19-year old has put all five tools on display on a regular basis and as great as his slash stats have been, his defense and his overall consistency have been even better.
Buxton makes frequent appearances in our On the Pond Daily feature so if you’re a regular reader of The Pond you know he’s been white-hot in the last week. Today’s Prospect Hot Sheet on Baseball America has the Twins future CF slotted in at number 2 behind Dodgers lefty Julio Urias.
Absent from the list and failing to even get a mention is Buxton’s teammate, 24-year old OF Jhon Goncalves. While he’s not a prospect in the most rigid definitions of the word – he didn’t even crack Minnesota’s organizational depth chart in the 2013 Prospect Handbook – for the week of June 28th to July 4th few minor leaguers performed better at the plate.
I thought Goncalves would be a shoo-in to at least to be mentioned somewhere. Of course I’m biased and, more importantly, I neglected to account for the Prospect Hot Sheet disclaimer that leads off their article every week:
Each Friday, the Prospect Hot Sheet singles out the prospects who had the best week, weighing raw performance, prospect status, age compared to level and the environment in which they play.
There’s no question Goncalves had the raw performance for the week: 0.714/.750/1.143 (10-14), 2 R, 6 2B, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB. But he obviously falls short in terms of prospect status and at 24-years of age he’s a bit old for the Florida State League. Also in play is the fact that he was bumped down from New Britain to Fort Myers in late May after hitting just 0.196/.275/.330 in 111 PA (31 G) with the Rock Cats.
There are many reasons to overlook him, but we should take note that he’s already hit more doubles this season (22) than he ever has before and he’s set that new career high in only 75 games. His 0.751 OPS – and that includes his time with the Rock Cats – is also a career high by a wide margin. This is the fourth season he’s spent time with Fort Myers but he had never hit better than 0.240 or slugged better than 0.300 in any of his previous three stints.
Goncalves isn’t going to shoot up prospect rankings and garner a lot of additional exposure with his recent FSL performance, but it’s certainly reasonable to assert that he’s putting together a breakout season. He’s worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses and hopefully the Twins give him another crack at Eastern League pitching before the year is over.
As for Buxton, he’s now cemented himself as baseball’s top prospect.
For posterity, here are the other AL Central prospects to make the list this week: