MINNEAPOLIS — In what shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Byron Buxton was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year on Wednesday.
Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s Major League Baseball Draft, put up impressive numbers in his first full minor league season. The 19-year-old outfielder began the year with Low-A Cedar Rapids, where he hit .341 with eight home runs, 10 triples, 15 doubles, 32 stolen bases and 55 RBI in 68 games with the Kernels.
Those numbers earned him a midseason promotion to High-A Fort Myers, where Buxton continued his hot hitting. In 57 games with the Miracle, Buxton batted .326 with four homers, eight triples and 23 stolen bases. One scout told Baseball America that Buxton is “the best minor leaguer I’ve ever seen.”
Buxton became the second Twins prospect to win the award. Catcher Joe Mauer was the first in 2003.
“That’s a tremendous honor,” said Twins general manager Terry Ryan. “Baseball America’s got a lot of credibility when it comes to prospects and minor league baseball and lists and all that type of stuff. Byron had a tremendous year, there’s no doubt about that, at two different levels. He’s only 19. You don’t get those awards too many times down at that level.”
Before the season started, Buxton was rated No. 10 on Baseball America’s prospect ratings. He jumped up that list to eventually be ranked as the top prospect by midseason. Fellow Twins prospect Miguel Sano was ranked third on Baseball America’s midseason list. Buxton and Sano both played in MLB’s Futures Game this year.
Minnesota believes it has a can’t-miss prospect in Buxton, and the future looks bright for the Twins with Buxton and Sano waiting in the wings. Wednesday’s award was just the latest of an ever-growing list of accolades for the talented Buxton.
Past winners of this award include Angels outfielder Mike Trout (2011), Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (2008), Royals outfielder Alex Gordon (2006) and Mauer (2003).
Now that Buxton has won the award, it will likely only help incite the burning question among Twins fans: when will they see him in a Minnesota uniform? Ryan said he wouldn’t put a timetable on when Buxton might make his big league debut.
“I never have and I never will. He’ll dictate pretty much how fast he moves, just like this year,” Ryan said. “Next year we’ll see exactly how he wants to progress. If he moves along, we’re not going to hold him back.”