The Twins save $200,000 by locking up their number two overall draft pick, Byron Buxton, to a $6 million dollar bonus, slightly under Major League Baseball’s new slot recommendations, reports Baseball America’s Jim Callis
As Callis mentions, Buxton’s signing represents a 25% increase over this year’s first pick of the draft, Houston’s Carlos Correa, who signed with the Astros on June 7 for a reported sum of $4.8 million
Buxton, 18, is a significant investment over last year’s selection, UNC’s Levi Michael, who the Twins inked for just $1.175 million. Also, unlike last year’s selection, the Twins saved themselves two months of lost development time by signing Buxton in June rather than August as they did for Michael. Michael, who was two years older than Buxton when drafted, has just begun his professional career at High-A Fort Myers and is scuffling against the competition, hitting .214/.308/.286 in 226 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Buxton will likely have the opportunity to experience his first season as a professional in 2012 at one of the two Rookie level teams, potentially starting with GCL Twins and then progressing to Elizabethton.
Prior to his signing, Buxton was on-hand at Target Field after his physical and took some batting practice with the team. MLB.com correspondent Jordan Garretson witnessed his round in the cages and tweeted
that his performance was “not really blowing anyone away”, noting that he was “spraying line drives around the field.” Now, this is obviously a premature assessment of Buxton’s true talents, particularly given the whirlwind the past few weeks must have been. What’s more is given Buxton’s lack of home run power in high school not having upper deck power at this point should be expected. Nevertheless, FSN did mention he eventually dropped a shot into the bullpen in left-center field which is clearly distance reserved for those wearing big-boy pants.
In short, the raw power is not quite there. As ESPN.com’s Keith Law noted, his current power on a 20-80 scale rates at 35 while his potential is closer to 60. So obviously there is room to grow.
With potential that has been regularly compared to Arizona’s Justin Upton and the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, Buxton’s developmental path looks like it will be more similar to Kemp’s than Upton’s. The Diamondback’s took a rather aggressive approach with their number one overall pick in 2005. They inserted the 18 year old into the Midwest League (Low-A) a year after his selection and Upton crushed immediately, hitting 12 home runs and posting a .263/.343/.413 batting line. Meanwhile, Kemp, who was a sixth round pick out of high school, was sent to the Gulf Coast League immediately after the draft and hit just one home run with a .270/.298/.346 batting line. It was not until his first full season in the minors that his true power talents began to emerge.
Offensively, Buxton feels more like a Kemp who eventually obtained power versus an Upton who hit for power out of the gates. Fortunately for the Twins - who moved quickly to lock up their highest selection since Joe Mauer in 2001 - they will have the opportunity to start his development right away and put him on the path to hopeful reach his comparables.