Despite being named the No. 1 prospect in the game by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, there were never any expectations that Byron Buxton would break camp with the Minnesota Twins out of spring training. At just 20 years old and with only 174 games played in his professional career (none above High-A), the highly athletic outfielder may have all the tools to succeed in the major leagues, but some additional minor league seasoning is necessary before he’s fully ready to step into the Twins’ lineup. But a wrist injury suffered during spring training ended up costing Buxton the first month of the minor league season. Nonetheless, the top prospect is finally back on the field and ready to begin the climb again.
Having been activated off the minor league disabled list over the weekend, Buxton made his season debut on Sunday for the team’s High-A affiliate in Fort Myers. Buxton went 0-for-4 in his first game, striking out twice. He’s expected to spend about two weeks with Fort Myers before joining Minnesota’s Double-A affiliate in New Britain later this month.
Buxton, who was the No. 2 overall pick in 2012 out of a Georgia high school, managed a .792 OPS in his first season spent with the Twins' Gulf Coast League team and then its Rookie League squad. He burst onto the scene the next season, however, splitting the year between Low-A Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers and hitting .334/.424/.520 in 574 plate appearances over 125 games. Add in 18 doubles, 19 triples, 12 home runs and 55 stolen bases, and it’s easy to see why so many scouts are enamored with the kid’s talent and potential. Given Buxton's age and inexperience, Minnesota will likely not rush him through the minor leagues. But if he’s able to put together a season like 2013 again over the remainder of the 2014 season, he could figure into the Twins’ outfield mix next spring.