Minnesota Twins Top Prospects: #1 Byron Buxton
Puckett’s Pond presents our Top 20 Minnesota Twins prospects. Topping our list at #1 is Byron Buxton
Honorable Mentions #20: Travis Blankenhorn
#19: Wander Javier #18: Stuart Turner #17: Jermaine Palacios
#16: Mason Melotakis #15: Jake Reed #14: Taylor Rogers
#13: Lewis Thorpe #12: J.T. Chargois #11: Adam Brett Walker
#10: Alex Meyer #9: Nick Burdi #8: Kohl Stewart
#7: Stephen Gonsalves #6: Nick Gordon #5: Jorge Polanco
#4: Tyler Jay #3: Max Kepler #2: Jose Berrios
There are no surprises with the Minnesota Twins number one overall prospect. Buxton has been on the radar of Twins fans since he was taken second overall behind Carlos Correa in the 2012 draft.
Name: Byron Buxton
Position: CF Age: 22
Height: 6’2 Weight: 190 lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 2nd overall in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft
After making his big league debut against the Rangers in 2015, he retained his rookie-status by just a handful of at-bats. With the trade of Aaron Hicks to the Yankees to de-clutter a crowded outfield, the Twins starting CF job appears to be Buxton’s to lose. If he can translate his incredible athleticism into more consistent big-league at-bats, the Twins outfield trio of Buxton, Rosario and Sano could be a prodigious force in 2016.
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Buxton now appears as number two on most top prospect lists behind Dodgers SS Corey Seager. Buxton would undoubtedly be number one if it wasn’t for his consistent struggles to stay on the field. Buxton has the most consistently highly rated tools in all of baseball. What he can make of his immense physical talent is the key question for Twins fans. Buxton has a grade 80 runner, with a grade 80 arm, grade 70 in the field, with a grade 65 hit tool and 55 for power. The upside of what this may translate to is mind-boggling. Buxton could look like Mike Trout with significantly less power. Even if Buxton’s contact struggles from 2015 persist, his floor is still a .240 hitter with 10-15 HR and 50 steals, in addition to gold glove caliber center field defense.
I attended Buxton’s 2015 big league debut against the Rangers. In both the final two games of the series and subsequently he struggled to identify and lay off breaking balls. Far more troubling than Buxton’s initial contact struggles has been his persistent injuries, with a thumb injury and wrist ailments significantly limiting his playing time over the last two seasons.
Buxton’s second full professional season in 2012 in which he remained healthy was by far his most impressive. Through Low A and High A ball he slashed .334/.424/.520, with 12 HR, 77 RBI and 55 swiped bags. This success suffered greatly in 2014 and into 2015, when he made his big-league debut. Buxton’s minor league numbers in 2015 were excellent when he was on the field; over two levels he produced a .300/.367/.500 slash line.
2016 will be a critical season for Buxton. He had a healthy end to 2015 and an off-season to prepare for his role as the incumbent Twins center fielder. If he can stay healthy and adjust gradually to major league pitching, Twins fans may see the beginning of a perennial All-Star career that pushes the Twins from a steadily improving team to an AL Central contender.