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  • Top '13 Stories: #4 - Buxton and Sano Dominate Minors

    Before the 2013 season, the Minnesota Twins had two prospects in Baseball America’s Top Ten minor leaguers. Miguel Sano ranked #9, and Byron Buxton ranked #10. Such lofty rankings often raise lofty expectations. One of the best stories in the Twins organization in 2013 is that both these top prospects not only met expectations, but greatly exceeded them. In fact, when Baseball America comes out with its 2014 preseason prospect rankings, it is likely that both will be among their Top Five prospects.

    Sano has been making news since well before the Twins signed him for $3.15 million in October of 2009. It is his immense power potential that gets people talking. He began the season in Fort Myers where, in 56 games, he dominated the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to the tune of .330/.424/655 with 15 doubles, two triples and 16 home runs in 56 games. He helped the Miracle clinch the first half division title early and the next day he was promoted to New Britain.

    With the Rock Cats, he was a bit streaky but those hot streaks are what make him so exciting. Despite a low average and a bunch of strikeouts, he accounted for some tremendous power. He hit .236/.344/.571 with 15 doubles, three triples and 16 home runs. He drove in 103 runs on the season as well.

    As encouraging, Sano greatly improved his defense. In 2012 while in Beloit he accumulated 42 errors. In 2013, between the two teams, he had just 23 errors.

    Obviously the concern right now is Sano’s right elbow. However, if healthy, Twins fans will most likely see him in a Twins uniform by midseason.

    With Sano, it is his power that is exciting. With Byron Buxton, his speed is electric. However, he is the #1 prospect in all baseball because of his overall game.

    Buxton began the season in the Midwest League (Cedar Rapids) as most first-round picks do in their first full season. Unlike most every young player to start the season there, he played so well and was so advanced that he spent only about half the season with the Kernels before moving up to Fort Myers for the second half. Not even Joe Mauer did that.

    In 68 games with the Kernels, Buxton hit .341/.431/.556 with 15 doubles, ten triples and eight home runs. Then, in 57 games with the Miracle, he hit .326/.415/.472 with four doubles, eight triples and four home runs.

    Buxton’s speed is elite. From the right-handed batter’s box, few in baseball history have been able to get to first base more quickly. He is able to beat out regular ground balls. He turned doubles into triples. Combined, he stole 55 bases, though he was also caught 19 times so that is something he will need to continue to work on. Defensively, he has great range because of his speed, but he actually takes good routes to the ball. He also has a great arm.

    Buxton is more than just his speed. He is a solid all-round hitter, patient at the plate, yet aggressive with his swing. He uses the entire field and has enough power to hit home runs. As he matures physically and learns the game through experience, he will hit for more power. Consider this: Baseball America commented that Buxton’s tools are even better than Mike Trout’s were as a prospect.

    Buxton was named the Minor League Player of the Year by many sources. He was named the top prospect in the Midwest League and the Florida State League.

    Buxton and Sano were the Twins representatives in the 2013 Futures Game and it is possible they will play in the 2014 Futures Game at Target Field. It is also possible that following that game, they could both stay with the Twins. Hopefully these two upper echelon prospects are able to continue to improve and reach their full potential.

    The best part of this story is that Buxton and Sano were not the only Twins' prospects who moved up in the minds of baseball people. Alex Meyer’s stuff and showing in the Arizona Fall League impressed. Eddie Rosario continued to move up at the same pace as Sano. Kohl Stewart is another Top 4 pick who has the stuff to be a future ace. Jorge Polanco took a major step forward in Cedar Rapids. Josmil Pinto continued to hit in the upper levels and had a terrific big league debut in September. Lewis Thorpe grew and came out of nowhere as a top prospect. Max Kepler showed his power potential with the Kernels in the second half. Adam Walker showed he has Sano-like power. Elizabethton had five or six starters that show potential. There are a few bullpen arms that reach into the upper-90s as well.

    The farm system is loaded, and that’s a huge story of 2013. However, it all starts with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. They are truly elite prospects and in 2013 they continued their exciting treks to Target Field.

    A look at other Twins stories from 2013 includes:

    #13 – Twins in the WBC
    #12 – Drew Butera Traded to Dodgers
    #11 – Twins Sign Kubel, Trade Doumit
    #10 - Brian Dozier Breaks Through
    #9 - Kyle Gibson Promoted
    #8 - Aaron Hicks' Lost Year
    #7 – Twins Draft Kohl Stewart
    #6 – Justin Morneau Traded to Pirates
    #5 – Twins Dismal Starting Pitching
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      As a fan I want these two to make a rush to the majors. But I hope the Twins have the patience to not rush them. I believe their game and production will clearly dictate where they should start this next season, and will just as clearly dictate when and where they should move up to.

      In the early 80's the Twins had a group of talented young players, maybe not quite at the elite level of these two, but not that far off. And while not all of them achieved the great success hoped for, Bush and Laudner to name a couple, though the had decent careers and helped win, Gaetti, Hrbek and Puckett (a cople years later) took a few lumps, but produced, and grew quickly. It would be naive to think Buxton and Sano won't take a few lumps themselves at some point, but the talent level and potential is undeniable.

      And really, they have not only shown that tremendous ability, but have produced consistently and dramatically with no regression. I don't even count the slippage in BA for Sano at AA as regression because he still showed a good enough eye and patience for a quality OB, plus power and RBI while continuing to hone his defense. In fact, for both players, despite being different types of talent and performers, what I find so encouraging with both is that OB skill. Might be the hardest thing to teach and hone, as well as the best indicator of offensive potential.

      I don't know what Sano's potential BA might be, but the defense seems to be coming nicely, and the power and run production should be excellent. Buxton seems to me to be a Ricky Henderson type with better arm and defense. With his athleticism and growth potential, I see potential 20 HR power in time. A Griffey Jr possibly? Which might not only make him a great lead off hitter, but potentially a future #3 hitter down the road.

      I'm just in favor of that road being as smooth as possible for both of them. I hope expectations from the front office, as well as us as fans, will be tempered enough to provide at least a little patience in their handling.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      The same sense of patience would also apply to Meyer, in my opinion. He'll be up sooner rather than later, but lets let him get a few more innings under his belt so he can reach the bigs, and stay there for good.

      While not worried about his development or future, the delay in Rosario's season beginning is a huge disappointment. I never thought he'd break camp with the Twins this year. But I was greatly looking for improvement and subsequent advancement to AAA early or immediately. Of course, that's going to be delayed now, and might push his MLB debut to September. And that is really a shame.

      And while I am a believer in Dozier, always have been, I disagree with those who seem in a hurry to usher Rosario back to the OF. While it could happen eventually, and he would almost certainly be a quality offensive performer there with a variety of skills, ( and I believe some of the power he showed earlier will return once he develops and settles in), he has the athleticism and has shown some ability and improvement in the inf that I'd keep him at 2B for now. What a wonderful dilemma in a year or so to have two excellent young 2B to work with. And who knows, having played SS his whole life, and having gained experience and confidence, perhaps Dozier could yet make the move back to SS?

      Polanco, Walker and Kepler are going to be a bit behind these 4, perhaps as much as two seasons. Perhaps Stewart will fast track and join them. Oh my, what a haul over the next 2-3 years!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I would add that I personally would put Alex Meyer into the "Elite" category, and Kohl Stewart is there too. They all have All-Star potential.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      My 2015 or 16 Playoff and More Line-up:

      1) Byron Buxton CF (the next Rickey Henderson)
      2) Eddie Rosario 2B (hit & run contact hitter)
      3) Joe Mauer 1B (will become a RBI threat in 3 hole)
      4) Miguel Sano 3B (30+ HR potential)
      5) Oswaldo Arcia LF (can't pitch around Sano)
      6) Kennys Vargas DH (switch hitting - complete batting threat)
      7) Adam Walker RF (athletic power threat in back of order)
      8) Josmil Pinto C (great hitter to protect Walker)
      9) Goodrum or Santana (leadoff bats at back of lineup)

      Pitching Depth
      1) Ricky Nolasco
      2) Alex Meyer
      3) Phil Hughes
      4) Trevor May
      5) (Player received for Dozier and Hicks Trade)

      Stewart - 2017
      Berrios - 2017
      Thorpe - 2018
      Jorge - 2019
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Light foot, love your lineup, and it reflects man of my own Twin fantasy lineups on paper doodles and in my head.

      Only qualm I really have is both Vargas and Hicks arriving, and arriving so soon to both figure in the lineup. Think Hicks might still be part of the equation. And not certain...yet...that Dozier is someone we trade. One, Rosario has to beat him out or he too might yet figure in the OF equation, and Two, keep wondering if an established, experienced and confident Dozier couldn't move back his previous life-long position of SS at some point.

      Pitching wise, I still believe in Gibson and feel he should be part of your starting 5 equation.

      Getting excited for 2015. Almost wishe we could just skip ahead.
    1. lightfoot789's Avatar
      lightfoot789 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DocBauer View Post
      Pitching wise, I still believe in Gibson and feel he should be part of your starting 5 equation.

      Getting excited for 2015. Almost wishe we could just skip ahead.
      I would agree with you on Gibson (forgot about him). I would replace him with May. I also like Dozier at SS if he can handle it long term. That would make for an even greater line up.
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