With the Twins on a 5-game losing streak to fall out of 1st place in the AL Central, they are still in a good position to contend for a playoff spot being just 2 games back of the Royals and currently possessing one of the two AL Wildcard spots, though there is lots of baseball to be played. They have been one of the most surprising teams of the season as they were predicted to finish last place in the division by most baseball outlets. But they want to make a statement and show the league that they mean business and they plan on competing all the way through the end of September, and that big statement that they are making is promoting top outfield prospect Byron Buxton to the Majors for his debut on Sunday.
The Twins have been running out a combination of Jordan Schafer, Shane Robinson, and Aaron Hicks out in center field this season, none of which have been very impressive nor expected to be a big part of the Twins future. So it’s been a bit of a void in their lineup and with both Schafer and Hicks on the DL now, the time has come for Buxton to make his long awaited debut.
Buxton was the #2 overall pick in the 2012 draft (behind Carlos Correa) and he displays tremendous all-around tools. In 2013 between A and high-A ball, Buxton hit .334 with 12 HR, 77 RBI, 109 R, and 55 SB. Much of his 2014 season was lost due to a wrist injury and then a concussion, so he was limited to just 31 games. The 21-year old began this season at AA and had been doing pretty well with a triple slash line of .283/.351/.489 to go with 6 HR, 37 RBI, 44 R, and 20 SB. He obviously has some great talent, but what can we expect from him as a rookie and should we be spending a ton o’ bux on Buxton when bidding on him off the waiver wire?
What Buxton doesn’t have going for him that I feel fellow recently called up top prospect Carlos Correa does is playing on a team that actually has a chance to compete. Yes, the Twins have been doing well and have been playing great baseball, but I don’t think that they have an actual chance to be competing in the pennant race and they will fall out of contention soon. If the Twins do indeed start to scuffle and Buxton isn’t performing well, then he will be ticketed back to the Minors, whereas I believe Correa is here to stay no matter what. So there is some risk in spending big on Buxton, but I would imagine that he does adequately enough to stick around.
Another difference between Correa and Buxton that I see is Correa appears to be more advanced in his ability to put the ball in play, which should help him to see more success early on in his career. Buxton has a career 20.2% strikeout rate in the Minors, which isn’t horrible, but I think that number is going to rise a lot in his first tour of the Majors and it’s going to prevent him from contributing positively with his batting average.
However, what Buxton might lack in batting average, he can make up for with his blend of power and speed. The power is not as prevalent as the speed, but it’s something that is sure to develop as his carer goes on and he can someday be a 20-25 HR hitter. His speed though is off the charts and should be something that makes an immediate impact as long as he can get on base enough to attempt stolen bases.
I believe that Correa is a more complete offensive player right now, but Buxton might edge him out in upside. But given that Correa plays a much shallower position of shortstop while Buxton plays the deepest position of outfield, Correa is definitely the more valuable fantasy commodity for this season. For the rest of the season, I will give Buxton the line of: .248 AVG, 5 HR, 37 RBI, 38 R, 16 SB, 88 K, 25 BB in 319 AB. However, Buxton’s long term potential may be unmatched and he is the most hyped outfield prospect since Mike Trout.
Let’s see what else happened during Saturday’s slate!