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Race to Target Field: Byron Buxton vs. Miguel Sano

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No, this isn't the cheesy mascot race held around the warning track at Target Field. This is a race between the top two prospects in the Twins system to make their debuts in Minnesota. It could be a hotly contested race and it could come down to a photo finish.

Tuesday marked the 19th birthday of Twins top prospect Byron Buxton. This means that the two players ranked highest on most Twins prospect lists, Buxton and Miguel Sano, are now both 19-years old. Sano is seven months older than Buxton and he has been in the Twins system since he was 16-years old. This small age gap should still put together quite the race between these two players to see who will get the first call-up to the big leagues.

The Twins tend to be patient with their minor league players as they make their way through the farm system. There were some people clamoring for Sano to get bumped up to Fort Myers after his hot start at Beloit last season. He came back down to earth a little bit over the course of the rest of the season and his defense continues to look a little shaky at third base. It was good for him to play the entire year at Beloit and hopefully this makes it easier for him to succeed in 2012.

Joe Mauer was the last Twins prospect to sit near the top of national prospect rankings before making his debut. It took him three years to move through the farm system. This included one year in rookie ball, one year at Low-A, and a season split between High-A and Double-A. He would skip the Triple-A level before making his debut. This could be the similar path for both Sano and Buxton.

Last season, Buxton would split time between both rookie league teams so there is a good chance that he will spend all of next season at Cedar Rapids. If he plays well enough, he could join Sano and some of the other top prospects in Fort Myers after the middle portion of the season. It seems more likely that both Sano and Buxton will spend all of next year at different levels. Sano will be with Fort Myers and Buxton will be not very far behind with Cedar Rapids.

Following the same pattern as Mauer, this could put Sano on track to be a Twins Opening Day starter by 2014. He would need to tear up High-A and Double-A next season before this would ever be an option. If Sano were to take this path, it seems unlikely for Buxton to catch him and pass him. The Twins aren't going to send Buxton through three different levels this season. It only seems possible if the Twins have Buxton skip Low-A and join Sano at Ft. Myers directly out of spring training.

After the seasons put together in 2012 by rising stars like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, it can be easy for fans to want to see what they have in their younger players. Harper was 19 for all of last season and he only recently turned 20. Trout turned 21 in August so last season was considered his age 20 season in the big leagues. These are both tremendous talents and the Twins can only hope that Buxton and Sano turn out as well as last year's rookie duo.

Because of their respective levels in 2012, it seems more likely for Sano's powerful bat to be taking hacks at Target Field before Buxton will be roaming the spacious outfield. If Sano has any set backs during the next couple of seasons, Buxton could be hot on his heels. The Twins were already surprised by the power Buxton showed in his first professional season. He also hit for a better average when he was promoted from the GCL Twins to the Elizabethton Twins. This could be a good sign for his future and it shows that he was developing during his time in the system.

It would be cool if both players spent all of 2013 and 2014 in the minors and then they both made their debuts on the 2015 Opening Day roster. This would mean a tie for the race to Target Field but it could mean that both players would be sitting at the same amount of big league service time. It would also give some of the young pitching time to develop in the minor leagues.

All of this might be getting a little ahead of where the Twins mindset needs to be for 2013. With all of the mediocre pitcher signings in the last couple of weeks, it is hard not to want to look past next season to what the future might hold. Sano and Buxton are two of the best prospects in baseball and fingers are crossed that they will continue to develop along their path to Target Field.

So who do you got, Sano or Buxton? The race is on to Target Field and Skeeta isn't involved in this race.

Comments

  1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
    I think Sano will be at Fort Myers all year and Buxton at Cedar Rapids all year. I don't think Buxton is going to catch up to him and will likely be a year behind. That means the earliest date of arrival with be Sept. 2014 and Sept. 2015, respectively. Most likely it will be June 2015 and June 2016, respectively.
  2. Rosterman's Avatar
    Neither is on the 40-man, so doubt that either will get a callup next year. See how they deal with pitch selection and fielding. Buxton got a little of the hard minor league life and Eliz and will do more of the same at Cedar Rapids. Unless he tears up A ball and moves to High-A and tears that up, he'll be putting in his time...hopefully returning to Ft. Myers and it's everyday play and state of the art conditioning facilities for the latter part of the year. Sano still has issues...maturity, weight, language, fielding skills. He should get all that at Ft. Myers and if an injury happens in AA ball, he'll move up if he can play everyday and face harder pitching. Picture both starting 2014 in the minors if they don't need to be added to the 40-man, but getting a preview look. I picture Buxton actually getting to the majors first, depending on the play of Benson and where the Twins end up putting Arcia. The Twins HAVE to address the who's on first and who will DH issue sooner rather than later.
  3. darin617's Avatar
    Technically Byron Buxton will play in Target Field before Miguel Sano. That would through the MLB Futures game.
    Sano should be in the 2013 game and Buxton in the 2014 game at Target Field.
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