Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Grading Buxton's tools

For the second time in just over a year, Byron Buxton graces the cover of Baseball America (no link because the article hadn't been posted to the BA website as of Tuesday afternoon).

A quote from the article, attributed to an unnamed scout for a National League team:

I am positive that he's the best prospect I've seen in (more than a decade) of full-time scouting. It's not even close. Tools, athleticism, feel and vision. Time will tell what kind of major league player he becomes, but the sky's the limit.

A month or so ago, the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan did a lengthy piece on Buxton that had, as a sidebar, proported scouting grades on Buxton's tools -- the oft-cited five tools being run, throw, field, hit and hit with power. Those grades (on a 20-80 scale) gave Buxton all 70s and 80s, and were quickly mocked on Twitter, with ESPN's Keith Law noting that giving Buxton a 70 grade for his hit tool means he could hit .320 right now in the majors.

My assumption on the Star Tribune grades was that these were projected grades, not present grades, but since Souhan wasn't explicit about what the grades meant, he deserved the mockery.

Anyway: The BA piece also has a grades sidebar, and says upfront: "All grades are future projections, not current grades and are meant to be quite conservative -- undoubtedly there are reports sitting in the databases of multiple teams with higher grades than these."

The BA grades: Hitting: 70. Power: 60. Speed: 80. Defense: 80. Arm: 70.

And in case you're think that a 60 grade for power doesn't sound like much, the sidebar says: "Most scouts surveyed ... project him to hit 25-30 home runs once he's matured and filled out."

The article (written before Buxton's promotion to high-A Fort Myers earlier this week)  is well worth a Twins fan's time and money.

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