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Game Thread: Twins @ Tigers 9-23 5:10 PM CT

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  ANNND Welcome! To Minnesota Twins Whine Line: Re-write edition! I am your host for the next 2 days, Vanimal. How NEAT was that ga...
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Walt's daily odds

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Happiest surprise for you this season?

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TD Top Prospects: #1 Byron Buxton

If nothing else, Byron Buxton’s 2014 season probably ensured that the Minnesota Twins organization met their health care deductible.

In spring training Buxton sprained the pisotriquetral ligament in his wrist while diving for a ball in a minor league game. Then after missing the month of April, Buxton joined the Fort Myers Miracle in May, only to reaggravate the wrist five games into his return. After coming back in July, Buxton’s offensive production was down from his previous stint in the Florida State League in 2013.

It was in New Britain -- one game into his new uniform -- that Buxton collided with teammate Mike Kvasnicka in the outfield resulting in a season-ending concussion. After the season the Twins opted to send Buxton to the Arizona Fall League to accrue some much needed innings. There, while diving for a ball in short center, Buxton broke his finger which required surgery to repair.

In all, 2014 might be a lost year for the Twins’ top prospect but it did nothing to diminish his promise.
Age: 21 (DOB: 12/18/1993)
2014 Stats (Fort Myers/New Britain): .234/.307/.395 (.702) with 4-2B, 2-3B, 4-HR
ETA: Late 2015

2014 Ranking: 1

What’s To Like

Buxton has more tools than HGTV -- is one shecky way to describe his potential. He has plus speed, plus defense, plus hit tool, plus makeup and so on.

"He'll wow you in the batter's box. He'll wow you in the outfield. He can run. He can fly. He has the arm. He's got the tools," was the review Miracle hitting coach Tommy Watkins gave reporters when Buxton hit the Florida State League in 2013. "He's an exciting player. He does everything whether it is stepping in the box and hitting doubles and triples or taking doubles away from guys."

Still, the road to the majors is littered with players who have had tools but failed to apply themselves. In a 2014 profile of Buxton, the Star Tribune highlighted the young player’s offseason workout routine which involved a daily morning run at 5:30 followed by hours of personal training and batting practice -- all before lunch. Certainly lack of a work ethic is not going to hinder Buxton’s potential.

Buxton earned an invitation to major league camp and will have the opportunity to work with veteran Torii Hunter, hoping to glean some valuable insight that may also help lead to a fruitful career. There are some who believe Buxton has an even brighter future than the five-time All-Star.

"I played with Torii at 19-, 20-years-old and this kid has all the tools, if not more, than Torii had," Miracle manager Doug Meintkiewicz, a teammate of Hunter’s, told reporters after watching Buxton play.

What’s Left To Work On

Proving he can stay on the field, for one thing.

As far as the injuries go however, Buxton said that he’s fully recovered and the collision in the outfield has not made him gun-shy in the least. “My health is good,” Buxton said on the Twins Hot Stove Show. “I wouldn’t change the way I play the game. I’m gonna play it hard and try to take away as many base hits that I can and try to help my pitcher out.”

Of all of his tools, his hitting needs the most work. While it is very much above average, it is not quite at the plus-plus grade that his defense and speed receive. Since being added to the system the Twins staff has made some changes to his swing mechanics, hoping to get him to be a bit more balanced at the point of contact rather than drifting forward. While heading for the Arizona Fall League ,Buxton told the Twins Hot Stove Show that he wanted to work on going the other way more and improving his pitch selection, which may or may not have been a directive of the front office.

“He will have to have to make some adjustments as he moves up the ladder in pro ball,” said scout Therron Brockish at Baseball America in November 2013. “There have been a lot of swings-and-misses in the Arizona Fall League, with the quality of pitching being a little better than what’s he’s probably seen up to this point. Sometimes he loads late, causing him to be late in trying to catch up to a good fastball. I would also like to see him use a little more of the whole field, but he’s still a young hitter with tremendous upside.”

He could use a reductionn of his strikeout rate, but it isn't necessarily the swinging strikeouts that cause questions. Th percentage of plate appearances in which he was caught looking doubled from 2013 to 2014. Similarly, in his second tour of the Florida State League Buxton’s walk rate dropped from 13% to 8%. Destined to start his career at the top of the order, the Twins need Buxton to get on base and utilize his elite speed.

SUMMARY

Believe it or not, Buxton is not far off. According to Twins general manager Terry Ryan, he has a very real chance of making it to Minnesota in 2015. That said, Buxton’s lack of playing time in 2014 hurts his chances of making it to the Twins early in the year.

Buxton will most likely start the year reunited with his Miracle manager Mientkiewicz in Chattanooga. If he proves himself capable, he will be on the move quickly. While the second-halves of the seasons lately have's not given Twins fans much reason to visit Target Field, Buxton's presence would surely pique some interest.

TD Top Prospect #10: Nick Burdi
TD Top Prospect #9: Trevor May
TD Top Prospect #8: Eddie Rosario
TD Top Prospect #7: Jorge Polanco
TD Top Prospect #6: Nick Gordon
TD Top Prospect #5: Alex Meyer
TD Top Prospect #4: Kohl Stewart
TD Top Prospect #3: Jose Berrios
TD Top Prospect #2: Miguel Sano
TD Top Prospect #1: Byron Buxton


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30 Comments

I would like to think that if he is healthy and steady in ST, he gets a chance to move north quickly. I can understand getting some rust removing AB's in the minors. But, not only is there no no one blocking him, there is no one, period. There can only be one acceptable reason not to bring him up early this year. That is because there is a "Grand Scheme"! That because of contractual and time of service reasoning the Twins are going to wait until after the ASG to do a major rebuild. I can live with that. But if they try and spend another year pretending that this team has a chance of winning anything, I do think I will start watching hockey!

Cross your fingers and hope he stays healthy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It would be fun to see Buxton on the Twins this year but he is still just 21 years old and I think the key is development and patience.Let him earn the call-up.

    • adorduan and highlander like this

I remember reading this two years ago, before Buxton showed he had the hit tool that BA just ranked a 70, and this portion in particular stood out as being prophetic about his hit tool (and overall ability):

 

http://www.fangraphs...quire-patience/

 

"Buxton’s hand eye coordination is worth mentioning as well. One advantage of arriving at the park four hours before first pitch is the ability to observe everything. In Elizabethton, young Twins players emerged from the locker room early to play a game. The game began with them standing in a circle with a ball in each hand. Then, a round of pseudo-juggling would ensue with players quickly passing a ball to free a hand to catch an incoming ball. When a ball was dropped, the player was out.

 

Watching Buxton dominate the game was a thing to behold. In a test of peripheral vision, hand speed and hand eye coordination, the teenage phenom was infallible and far above a handful of teammates considered to be legitimate prospects in their own right."

    • birdwatcher and jokin like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 20 2015 08:27 AM

Please, just this once can we have the newest, coolest toy on the market?

    • Seth Stohs, birdwatcher, Siehbiscuit and 3 others like this
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Parker Hageman
Feb 20 2015 08:37 AM
The game began with them standing in a circle with a ball in each hand. Then, a round of pseudo-juggling would ensue with players quickly passing a ball to free a hand to catch an incoming ball. When a ball was dropped, the player was out.

 

 

Sort of reminds me of what neuroscouting in the Boston Red Sox's organization found in regards to Mookie Betts: http://twinsdaily.co...-neuroscouting/. I'm guessing Buxton would do well with these tests as well.

 

Talking about his hit tool, I'm also starting to wonder if he will lose some HR power potential with the adjustments the Twins are making. When he was drafted, he was using his lower half a lot and now they've removed any semblance of a stride. The desired results appear to be working on his ability to make constant contact and putting the ball in play rather than pulling/driving it far.

    • nytwinsfan likes this

Semi-random question:Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

 

Myself, I think I'd rather the guy who hits more triples.Mostly a personal preference thing, but I think triples might be about the most exciting individual play in baseball.For me, anyway.

    • birdwatcher likes this

Semi-random question:Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

 

Myself, I think I'd rather the guy who hits more triples.Mostly a personal preference thing, but I think triples might be about the most exciting individual play in baseball.For me, anyway.

 

I personally am most excited for Buxton's first inside the park homerun, which would be more exciting than either a 3B or HR.

    • Seth Stohs, birdwatcher, Dantes929 and 1 other like this

Semi-random question:Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

 

Myself, I think I'd rather the guy who hits more triples.Mostly a personal preference thing, but I think triples might be about the most exciting individual play in baseball.For me, anyway.

 

For a guy with this once-in-a-lifetime-prospect speed, it's all about the OBP.  Turning doubles into triples, turning walks and singles into doubles, turning GB outs into infield hits.  Let the HRs come when they come. I predict he will end up hitting 20-30 HR/yr as he passes through his mid-20s.

Semi-random question: Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

Myself, I think I'd rather the guy who hits more triples. Mostly a personal preference thing, but I think triples might be about the most exciting individual play in baseball. For me, anyway.


Triples are definitely more fun, but they are also more fickle. Less sustainable, faster to fade, etc. I would take the HR for his long-term value.
    • nicksaviking and Siehbiscuit like this

I personally am most excited for Buxton's first inside the park homerun, which would be more exciting than either a 3B or HR.

 

Heh, heh.  I forgot to include in my post turning triples into HRs.  Thanks for picking me up. :)

    • nytwinsfan likes this

Triple, followed by stealing home. Just like Sir Rodney.


"Buxton’s hand eye coordination is worth mentioning as well. One advantage of arriving at the park four hours before first pitch is the ability to observe everything. In Elizabethton, young Twins players emerged from the locker room early to play a game. The game began with them standing in a circle with a ball in each hand. Then, a round of pseudo-juggling would ensue with players quickly passing a ball to free a hand to catch an incoming ball. When a ball was dropped, the player was out.

 

Watching Buxton dominate the game was a thing to behold. In a test of peripheral vision, hand speed and hand eye coordination, the teenage phenom was infallible and far above a handful of teammates considered to be legitimate prospects in their own right."

 

Haha, we always played this game in warm-ups. "Two-ball" we called it. You'd switch your hat to backwards the first drop, lose the hat the second, then were "out" on the third drop. I sucked at that game, haha, but it was fun and definitely challenged your hand-eye coordination.

    • nytwinsfan likes this

Semi-random question:Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

 

Myself, I think I'd rather the guy who hits more triples.Mostly a personal preference thing, but I think triples might be about the most exciting individual play in baseball.For me, anyway.

 

I wan't him to be (and think he will be) the next "20-20-20-20" guy (2B's, 3B's, HR's, SB's).

 

There's only been 4 players in the history of major league baseball to accomplish that.

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Parker Hageman
Feb 20 2015 10:25 AM
"Two-ball" we called it. You'd switch your hat to backwards the first drop, lose the hat the second, then were "out" on the third drop.

 

 

Yeah, we called it "flip" when we played -- here is a video of the Mariners doing it: 

 

 

Semi-random question:Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

 

 

Both? I think the belief is that he will grow into being a 20+ HR hitter like Hunter did once he matures. 

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HitInAPinch
Feb 20 2015 10:28 AM

Semi-random question:Would you rather see the future Buxton for Minnesota hit 20 triples and 10 HR in a season, or 20 HR and 10 triples?

 

Myself, I think I'd rather the guy who hits more triples.Mostly a personal preference thing, but I think triples might be about the most exciting individual play in baseball.For me, anyway.

Sort of a Lyman Bostock vs. Tony Oliva type question.Although Tony never hit 10 triples, but a ton of doubles.

 

I'm good with either :-)

    • highlander likes this
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Willihammer
Feb 20 2015 10:30 AM

Talking about his hit tool, I'm also starting to wonder if he will lose some HR power potential with the adjustments the Twins are making. When he was drafted, he was using his lower half a lot and now they've removed any semblance of a stride. The desired results appear to be working on his ability to make constant contact and putting the ball in play rather than pulling/driving it far.

Isn't that what a 2-strike approach is for? I guess I don't understand why you would throttle anyone back until they get to two strikes.

 

And are you going to blog on this development?

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Parker Hageman
Feb 20 2015 10:47 AM
And are you going to blog on this development?

 

 

I had done so in 2013 but the switch over to the new system has lost the GIF clips. I was in support of making adjustments to his high school swing -- lots of movement, etc -- in retrospect, I would like to have seen a big more engagement out of the lower half. 

 

4gl.gif

 

It is simple, balanced and repeatable. Going to get a ton of hits, maximize contact, etc. It just seems to lack the lower-half power. I know it would cost him some contact/base hits, but I would like to see something close to Adam Jones' approach. 

 

adam-jones.gif

 

All in all, I want to watch more clips of him. Everything is very limited. Whatever was working for him in Cedar Rapids seemed to be the right path but the Twins felt that he would not succeed with that approach moving up the latter. Would love to talk to their instructors on the reasoning they had for it. Either way, here's more on the subject of his swing progression from Class-A to High-A in 2013: http://www.startribu.../242945961.html

    • nicksaviking, Siehbiscuit, Willihammer and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 20 2015 11:01 AM

I had done so in 2013 but the switch over to the new system has lost the GIF clips. I was in support of making adjustments to his high school swing -- lots of movement, etc -- in retrospect, I would like to have seen a big more engagement out of the lower half. 

 

Great on the spot analysis.I agree, the lack of lower body movement reminds me of a right handed Denard Span.He obviously lacked any semblance of power.  Span's swing probably would cause many to be surprised he actually has a 6', 200+ lb frame, something that should be able to generate more power.

Killer first name the kid has! :)
    • ashburyjohn and eLee612 like this
I'm going to enjoy comparing how Buxton does in spring training to how Hicks does. I sort of lean towards Buxton doing better this spring even though Hicks is much older than him. We'll see though. Same story line applies to Sano/Plouffe.
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ashburyjohn
Feb 20 2015 12:50 PM

Killer first name the kid has! :)

So it's actually Harmon?

    • highlander likes this

There can only be one acceptable reason not to bring him up early this year. That is because there is a "Grand Scheme"! That because of contractual and time of service reasoning the Twins are going to wait until after the ASG to do a major rebuild. I can live with that. But if they try and spend another year pretending that this team has a chance of winning anything, I do think I will start watching hockey!

He didn't make any progress last year, maybe even took a step back so there is no reason to rush him to the big leagues.  The Twins likeliness to have another poor season creates even less incentive to bring him up unless he's absolutely dominant and they have a bunch of IFs in the OF again. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 20 2015 03:03 PM
I think he should start the year in AA. I'd like to see him get off to a good start. He didn't do that last season.

We played flip before every game and every practice in college. It got pretty intense. That was so fun!

    • nytwinsfan likes this

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