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Article: Bang For Your Buxton


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Hicks and Buxton are different people and one man's journey has no bearing on another. Still, the slow and frustrating path that Hicks has followed serves as a cautionary tale when it comes to the organization's latest blockbuster addition.

And, to add more to this... it's the same path that equally tooslie athletes Denard Span and Torii Hunter were on. And probably Matt Moses, BJ Garbe, and others.

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Yeah, I tend to agree, Buxton was not my top choice but that had nothing to do with Aaron Hicks. I've never been a big fan of player comparisons to begin with. So even though he wasn't my top choice, he is a Twin now and I am excited to see what he can do in the futuere.

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Next year or this year if he signs soonish? E-Town, one would think this year. Hopefully he starts or at least finishes at Beloit next year.

That would be uncharacteristically aggressive. I'm sure he'll start in the GCL but I did read that they were open to having him finish this year in Elizabethton. I wonder if they'll start him in EST next year, like they did with Hicks in '09.
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I would not call this pick a gamble. A gamble would have been taking one of the three high profile pitchers and guessing which one will be good. If they took Appel and Zimmer proved to better, than they look like fools.

 

This is taking a kid with a lot talent that could be great but its not really a gamble.

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Their approach has worked so well the last 5 years, they should keep doing that /sarcasm.

 

He's 18.5, in HS, and dominated younger teenagers in an area with low talent, of course there is risk here. That doesn't mean he was a bad pick, I have no issue with the pick. But to pretend there is no risk here is odd to me.

 

I don't think it is aggressive for him to be in low A next year, he'll be older than Sano, and he's the 2nd pick in the draft with "can't miss tools". If he's not ready as a 19.5 year old for low A, then that would be a red flag to me that he's not really a superstar in the making. Superstars are on much shorter paths than regular players, that's part of what makes them superstars.

 

As for Hicks, I'm not sure why we think he's going to be a solid regular? He cannot hit AA ball pitching. That could change, but I'm down to about 50% convinced now that he'll be a solid regular on a winning team (lots of guys can be regulars on bad teams....look a the last two years in MN). It shows, again, why sometimes trading propsects for proven players might be a good idea.....

 

All that said, I have no issue with the Buxton pick. It wouldn't have been my pick, but we'll see how it turns out.

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The questions that surrounded Hicks when the Twins selected him 14th overall in '08 were the same ones that generally surround any teenager drafted out of high school, and they are the same ones now attached to Buxton: How will those immense physical attributes play out when he goes from facing crummy high school hurlers to imposing professionals?

I am curious how Buxton's power will develop when he is currently in a metal bat league with smaller fields and crappy pitching and he can only hit 3 home runs. I know it is dangerous comparing Hicks to Buxton but Hicks had more home runs and a higher slugging % in high school than Buxton. I guess at this point I don't buy into Buxton being a 5 tool guy.

Edited by jharaldson
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I saw Hicks play in a spring training game this year. I was impressed with his size and skills in the game. I also think that when he was drafted he was more of an athlete than a baseball player. If the Twins are patient the instincts will come. He plays at a slower pace than Benson already. Benson is the one I'm worried about.

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Twins Daily Contributor

Everyone is down on Hicks because of the batting average, but I ask you to look at it another way.

 

Each time he's hit a new level, he's hit about .245/.345/.385. When he's repeated a level (Midwest League in his case), he raised it to .279/.401/.428.

 

His .341 On-base percentage at AA New Britain this year is better than the league average and he's also top 10 in the league in runs scored and stolen bases.

 

I also fail to see how his ability to draw a walk has deteriorated, as he's also #3 in the EAS League in that category, and the AVG/OBP split is still nearly .100 (which is an elite level walk rate). Yes he strikes out a lot too, but that hasn't hurt him from being productive.

 

To me, Hicks is going to be the same guy go no matter what level he plays at (statistically speaking, unless he gives up hitting left-handed, than the numbers might improve), at his peak being a .270/.370/.420 hitter who plays gold-glove caliber defense in CF. What's wrong with that. As mentioned, Torii Hunter didn't do anything until he was 25, so I wouldn't worry so much about him. If he gets on a hot streak you might just see him in September this year. I bet in 4 years we're having this exact same conversation about Buxton.

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I am curious how Buxton's power will develop when he is currently in a metal bat league with smaller fields and crappy pitching and he can only hit 3 home runs. I know it is dangerous comparing Hicks to Buxton but Hicks had more home runs and a higher slugging % in high school than Buxton. I guess at this point I don't buy into Buxton being a 5 tool guy.

The metal bat part doesn't bother me at all. Highschools and colleges have started using BBCORE bats now that are metal bats that mimic wood bats. It's not quite perfect, but they are much closer to wood bats than they used to be.

 

I'm excited to see what Buxton can do. I know it will probably take him a few years, but hopefully he signs soon and gets playing. From the scouting reports and articles I've read, he is supposed to be quite the humble kid that works hard and is a team player.

 

I'm not worried that we picked him either. There was a rumor that Appel would turn down a $6MM signing bonus from Houston, which is why they picked Correa. So, if the Twins would have picked him instead of Buxton, he may not have signed anyway.

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Super stars don't repeat levels every level. Superstars dominate their level. Sort by OPS for the eastern league....he's 34th (if I counted right). There are two other AA leagues. He'd be 26th in the Souther League, and even lower in the last league (got tired of counting) (yes, I know the parks are different, but we can only work with what we have....). So, more than 80 everyday AA players are out-OPSing him right now.

 

Can he get better? Sure he can. Is he some can't miss prospect that will be at least league average? No idea. There was a study last year online about OPS in AA, and its predictability around becoming an above average MLB player. I'll see if I can find it, but I'm pretty sure we won't like what it implies about Hicks' likely future. A .790 OPS would make him the 8th best CF in MLB (2011 stats), your .370 OBP would make him the 3rd best CF in all of MLB in terms of OBP. You really think that? It would be 24th best OBP for all of MLB. If that were true, sign me up with gold glove defense. But what are the odds of that, really?

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I also fail to see how his ability to draw a walk has deteriorated, as he's also #3 in the EAS League in that category, and the AVG/OBP split is still nearly .100 (which is an elite level walk rate). Yes he strikes out a lot too, but that hasn't hurt him from being productive.

Well his BB% has dropped from 17 to 15 to 13 the past three years, and his K/BB ratios – which were once close to even – are now closer to 2:1. His plate discipline numbers still aren't terrible, but they aren't headed in the right direction.
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The metal bat part doesn't bother me at all. Highschools and colleges have started using BBCORE bats now that are metal bats that mimic wood bats. It's not quite perfect, but they are much closer to wood bats than they used to be.

Good point about the BBCOR bats, I wasn't aware they were required this year and that would hurt his power. I still stand by my point though that 3 HR in a season (1 every 40 AB) is not power when numerous players in the state are hitting homeruns every 10 AB:

 

http://www.maxpreps.com/list/leaderboard_list.aspx?state=GA&sectionid=-Select-&leagueid=-Select-&teamtype=player&leaguetype=overall&category=,batting average&position=-All-&classyear=-All-&ssid=6dc45447-ba5f-4114-8ec2-63428ccb3a68

 

I still like the pick as well. He looks like he can throw well in the video's I have seen, his speed seems ridiculous, and he has a high average in High School. He just doesn't have the power to be described as a "5-tool" player and that isn't a bad thing.

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Good point about the BBCOR bats, I wasn't aware they were required this year and that would hurt his power. I still stand by my point though that 3 HR in a season (1 every 40 AB) is not power when numerous players in the state are hitting homeruns every 10 AB:

 

http://www.maxpreps.com/list/leaderboard_list.aspx?state=GA&sectionid=-Select-&leagueid=-Select-&teamtype=player&leaguetype=overall&category=,batting average&position=-All-&classyear=-All-&ssid=6dc45447-ba5f-4114-8ec2-63428ccb3a68

 

I still like the pick as well. He looks like he can throw well in the video's I have seen, his speed seems ridiculous, and he has a high average in High School. He just doesn't have the power to be described as a "5-tool" player and that isn't a bad thing.

 

I hear what you're saying, but you did see the video of Buxton hitting the ball (practically) onto Waveland Avenue at Wrigley, right? Effortless swing.

 

Edited by jokin
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Tori Hunter's AA stats would have projected him as a 4th outfielder at best. Hicks may end up being a bust but i wouldn't be suprised if the light goes on soon and the understanding of playing professional baseball catches up with his physical tools.

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your .370 OBP would make him the 3rd best CF in all of MLB in terms of OBP. You really think that? It would be 24th best OBP for all of MLB. If that were true, sign me up with gold glove defense. But what are the odds of that, really?

Keep in mind the caveat I applied of "at his peak", which means in his best statistical seasons, not over a career.

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Well his BB% has dropped from 17 to 15 to 13 the past three years, and his K/BB ratios – which were once close to even – are now closer to 2:1. His plate discipline numbers still aren't terrible, but they aren't headed in the right direction.

I guess I'm not as concerned about a 2% drop-off in walk rate when moving up a level as you. The on-base-percentage is still translating.

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Good analysis Nick, There is one major difference between Buxton and Hicks, about $4.5mm or so. Personally, I was hoping the Twins would get a stud starter with the #2 pick. Unfortunately, that guy wasn't out there.

 

One question I do have, do people think that Appel dropped to 8th because of Scott Boras?

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I know you guys are skeptical about Buxton's power numbers. With all the spotlight on him early, he took a lot of walks. As playoff time came around. Instead of getting intentionally walked he would get pitched around and He was moved to the leadoff spot early in this high school season. He went from an RBI guy to a get on base and help the team guy. In fact he led off teh last game of the state dhampionship series with a bunt. Trust me, this kid has the power. He may not have Mark McGwire "swing for the fence" power but he is best known for his blazing speed. He will be a top of the order guy, not a big RBI producer.

 

He is a very exciting player to watch and hopefully he can live up to his billing. I don't think he got drafted on his power ability. It remains to be seen how well this kid can play at the next level.

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Good analysis Nick, There is one major difference between Buxton and Hicks, about $4.5mm or so. Personally, I was hoping the Twins would get a stud starter with the #2 pick. Unfortunately, that guy wasn't out there.

 

One question I do have, do people think that Appel dropped to 8th because of Scott Boras?

Partly, I think there were 2 groups on Draft Day. Teams who thought Appel was the #1 pitcher out there, and teams who thought he was in the top 3 or 4. Appel passed by Baltimore, Kansas City, San Diego because teams thought he wasn't much better then the rest and harder to sign (Boras). The others past on him to save money for later in the draft or their was a position player they liked better. Boras plays hard ball, which means sometimes he gets hit hard too.

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One question I do have, do people think that Appel dropped to 8th because of Scott Boras?

Many people have been saying that, and that he was asking for too much money.

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Boras has ruined as many careers as he's helped. Hicks was actually compared a lot to Daryl Strawberry when he was drafted. Not sure if that was because he is a long and lanky African American from California or not? I honestly think he will be a good player in the big leagues. Will he be a perennial all star? Probably not. These really athletic high school kids do take a little longer to develop so I don't think it is time to panic. Joe Benson fans should probably panic. Button has a ton of power as is evidenced in the bomb he hit with a wood bat at wrigley. He may fly through the minors, more likely he is in the big leagues at 22/23. I would love to see an outfield with him, Hicks and Revere!! They could cover some ground!! I like the pick because there was No clear cut ace quality pitcher in this draft.

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