The Minnesota Twins played an interesting series against the Texas Rangers. Two bright spots were their young stars, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.
When asked about the franchise’s two most pivotal players over the Texas road trip, the Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor was brimming with confidence when analyzing their approaches to the plate and defensive versatility.
For the first time all season, Byron Buxton collected some productive at-bats and looked like a capable hitter working the count. Miguel Sano had a great series at the plate, but he impressed even more with his glove.
First off, Twins fans should be cautiously optimistic about Byron Buxton’s progress over this past series. The first thing I noticed with his at-bats is he’s trying to work the count and wait for his pitch to drive. Buxton has struggled mightily this season with not being patient enough in the zone and swinging over everything (primarily off-speed).
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Against the Rangers, he waited a tad bit longer on pitches in the zone and drove the baseball to right center field. The small sample size hopefully keeps his confidence at the plate up and gives the hitting coach James Rowson a template to work with. Taking walks and focusing on driving the ball up the middle is a step in the right direction.
Defensively, one would be hard pressed to find a better center fielder than Byron Buxton. He’s a walking web gem. The challenge for him has always been matching that productiveness with his bat. For Buxton to be the undisputed center fielder of the future, he has to be able to get on base and score runs.
He’s got a fantastic mentor to mold his game after in Torii Hunter who joined the organization as a consultant. Each and every at bat is vital for Buxton to develop as a big leaguer and make his mark as the next great Twins center fielder.
Who knew Miguel Sano could flash the leather like that at third base? We heard all off-season how Sano had to lose weight and add agility to play the hot corner effectively. Admittedly, I doubted the theory the second I heard it. After a disastrous season playing right field, the 23 year-old had serious changes to make in order to not be just a DH the rest of his career.
Sano has shown the agility to play third as well as the momentous arm strength to throw runners out trying to fool him on a bunt. Consider me impressed with his rather seamless transition to third base.
It seems crazy mentioning Miguel Sano without discussing his success tattooing the baseball as of late. He’s hitting .286 and taking walks on the regular. On a 0-2 count, Sano squared up an inside pitch and sent it 437 feet into the second deck of Globe Life Park.
When there’s a pitch on the black, Sano has shown patience to go the other way with it instead of trying to pull everything. The key to maxing out his potential is being able to diversify his at-bats not trying to crush every pitch.
Sano’s average exit velocity is 101.1 mph (MLB average is 87.66). Mind you, his more patient approach is still leading to crushing the baseball even when he’s not hitting home runs. If he is able to consistently hit at this rate, he’ll remind us an awful lot of a certain Miguel in Detroit who should have his Hall of Fame speech ready to go by now.
Who knows if the playoffs will be in the cards this season; arguably what should be more important is the maturation of several young players on the roster to take the next step.
The new brain trust needs to evaluate who fits the long-term picture for the franchise and the first two names of chief prominence are Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. We’ve had glimpses of greatness from both, but let’s all hope that becomes an expectation and a foundation for the future of the Minnesota Twins.