Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Twins go with Buxton over Appel

When the Houston Astros made a surprise selection of Carlos Correa with the first pick of the 2012 MLB Draft, the Twins were left with a decision of picking between high school outfielder Byron Buxton and college pitcher Mark Appel. Before the draft started on Monday night, it seemed that Appel was going to be a sure bet for the number one selection. This didn't happen because of some perceived signability concerns and the Twins still took the player that they had highest on their draft board, Byron Buxton.

Buxton was the number one ranked player by both Baseball America and MLB.com before the draft started on Monday night. The five-tool outfielder has been compared to many current outfielders but the one mentioned most often is Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Even Buxton himself thinks he plays a lot like Upton on the field.

From the sounds of reports and tweets, the Twins scouting director Deron Johnson was extremely happy with the pick and it seems that the sky could be the limit for this young man. "He's a five-tool player," Johnson said. "Tremendous ceiling. He's a really good kid. Hard worker. Two-sport athlete. Everybody talks about his athleticism. He's got a really good swing. We think he's going to hit. We think he'll hit anywhere from No. 1 in the order to No. 3."

To get a number one caliber pick with the second selection in the draft has to be a thrill for the front office of the Twins. He showed tremendous offensive skills this season by batting .513 with 17 doubles and 35 RBI. His tremendous speed helped him to be a plus defensive outfielder and to steal more than a base per game during his senior year. One of the most valuable tools could be his arm in center field. He showed off some of this ability by pitching in his high school state championship game last week and striking out 18 batters to lead his team to the title.

The Twins will let Buxton focus his attention as an outfielder but he is a tremendous athlete that could have gone on to play college football for the University of Georgia. Buxton was the best player on the board but Appel could have provided the Twins some pitching depth in the system that seems low on top level arms. Appel could have been on the fast track to Target Field but Buxton will take awhile to develop in the minor league system. A lot of the Twins top minor league talent is in the lower levels so Buxton might have been the correct pick for the team that is a few years away from contending again.

Buxton, who goes by "Buck," has until July 13 to sign with the Twins and become a very rich recent high school graduate. As of Monday night, the Twins expressed little concern over signing Buxton and it would be nice for him to get some time in the rookie leagues by the end of the summer. It might a few seasons before fans are wearing Buxton #3 jerseys (he will have to change away from his high school number) at Target Field, but he seems to be destined for big things in the coming years.

No comments: