General Manager Terry Ryan rarely offers surprises, but he surprised us all over the weekend. During a rain delay in Texas on Saturday, the Twins announced that they called up the #1 MLB prospect, center fielder Byron Buxton. Fans have been longing for this day as they watched Buxton play in the Minors.
On Saturday, Chattanooga Manager Doug Mienkiewicz gathered his team and announced that the 21-year-old would be heading to the Big Leagues. There are a few clues that Buxton’s first MLB stint won’t be a short one either. The Twins waited a day to make room on the roster and came after Aaron Hicks tested his elbow and was placed on the 15-day DL. Plus, Manager Paul Molitor said if Buxton performs well, he’s staying in the Majors.
In his debut on Sunday batting ninth, Buxton showed his nerves as he went 0-for-4 with 2 strike outs. In his second at-bat, Buxton hit a hot-shot to Texas’ third baseman Joey Gallo, who made a good play as Buxton almost beat out the routine ground ball. Buxton proved his speed in the ninth inning, when his failed bunt didn’t get the runner to third base with the score tied but he ended up on first base for the first time. During the next at-bat, rookie Eddie Rosario smashed a line drive into the gap and Buxton easily scored the winning run. Buxton also made some nice running catches in center field. After the game, Buxton said he was nervous until his last at-bat, and he was excited to help his team win. According to Molitor, expect Buxton to play every day this week.
During the St. Louis series, Buxton will get the feel for pitching and should struggle some. He needs to get the feel of laying of the curve ball, but once he does, I think he will perform the way we all know he can. Buxton looks like Torii Hunter 16 years ago when Hunter could not lay off the curve in the dirt at all. Before Buxton reached the Majors, he was batting .283 with 12 triples, 67 hits, and racked up 37 RBIs in 59 games in Double-A. I believe once Buxton figures out the pitching, he will go on hot-streak.
Assuming Buxton stays up for a long while, the Twins might be starting the “prospect transition.” It will be interesting to see if the Twins soon bring up their #2 prospect, Miguel Sano, who is currently batting .258 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 55 games in AA. Since they called up Buxton, I wouldn’t be shocked if they started to call up their best prospects!
Written by: Michael L. Sack