Monday, January 6, 2014

Non-Complacency Key for Byron Buxton's Offseason

It could be easy for Twins uber prospect Byron Buxton to approach this offseason with a big head. He is coming off of one of the best minor league seasons in Twins history. Baseball America recently honored him with their top award as the best minor league player for 2013. Buxton is being compared to super-star players like Mike Trout and that can make it tough to motivate yourself.

When a player is considered head and shoulders above his peers, an attitude of complacency can emerge. Buxton destroyed the competition in the Midwest League and the Florida State League to show why the Twins were right to draft him with the second overall pick in 2012. He could look at the rest of the competition and be fine with the level he played at. Why make any improvements if you are already the best?

In a recent video interview with the Star Tribune, Buxton discussed different parts of his offseason workout. He works on his hitting and route running on an almost daily basis. His father works with him for hours on some of the different parts of his game. Even though it's hard to believe, he could be getting faster as he recently set a new personal best by running a sub-4.40 40-yard dash.

Buxton also saw different parts of his game improve throughout the season last year. According to the interview, he improve his approach at the plate and this helped him to get more comfortable in at-bats. He also mentioned that he got better when it came to pitch recognition. In the last full month of the season, Buxton posted his best OBP of the year so the numbers would seem to back-up his feelings at the plate.

Another area he discussed as improving throughout the season was his ability to drive the ball to the gaps. While he might have believed that to be true, his numbers seemed to show that he was better at driving the ball in the first half of the year. He had a .559 slugging percentage with Cedar Rapids and that number dipped to .472 with Fort Myers. Although his BABIP was very similar between the two levels (.402 in Low-A vs .404 in High-A).

Situational hitting marked another area of Buxton's improvement. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Buxton hit .328/..430/.552 with eight extra-base hits and 24 RBI over 67 at-bats. Buxton also felt his teammates were able to drive him in on a consistent basis. His 109 runs scored with the second most in the entire minor leagues. In May alone, he scored 30 runs out of the 30 games he played in.

As one reporter asked Buxton, "What do you want to get better at?" His simple answer... "Everything."

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