Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bryon Buxton, top Appy League prospect

Byron Buxton takes batting practice in Target Field after
signing his Twins contract.
On Tuesday, Baseball America named Byron Buxton -- the outfielder the Twins took with the No. 2 overall pick in June's draft -- the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League.

On Wednesday, BA named Buxton the top prospect in the Appalachian League.

This two-fer was no surprise; rookie league stats are secondary to the lifestyle change these young players are experiencing. Buxton's athletic gifts didn't change, and as the consensus best talent in the 2012 draft pool, he was bound to be the best prospect in the Rookie leagues he played in.

Note that Bubba Starling of the Kansas City Royals organization was No. 3 on BA's list. Starling was the sixth overall pick in 2011, a draft class regarded as much deeper than the 2012 one. Starling perhaps went as "low" as sixth overall because he had signed to play quarterback at Nebraska, and he wound up being drafted by, and signing with, his hometown team in Kansas City. (Sounds a bit like Joe Mauer, right?) BA in 2011 regarded Starling as one of six legitimate possibilities for the No. 1 overall choice. 

There were Buxton-Starling comps leading up to the 2012 draft, and this ranking suggests that, while it's close, Buxton rates better. But, again, it's Rookie-level ball.

Unlike the GCL, the Twins had a second player in the Appy League top 20 -- another outfielder, Max Kepler. Kepler was repeating the Appy League, but he was still only 19, and he blossomed, showing signs of turning his athletic talent into skills.

A number of players who started out at the GCL and moved up to the Appy League, such as Twins pitcher J.O. Berrios (first pick in the supplemental round) and Houston shortstop Carlos Correa (first pick overall) didn't make BA's playing time requirements to be listed in the Appy League rankings. I suspect Berrios didn't qualify for either GCL or Appy, having worked a total of 30 innings split almot evenly between the two leagues. I can't see that this diminishes his status at all.

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