Byron Buxton enters the Arizona Fall League as the big man on campus following an insanely good full-season debut across both Single-A levels. The 19-year-old showed evaluators a lot everything this past season, hitting for both average and power with an advanced approach while showing his usual elite speed and superb defense in center field.
Buxton is a rarity in that he’s a teenager with a realistic ceiling of a plus-plus hitter at maturity. While his off-the-charts bat speed and direct bat path will give him a chance to hit at the highest level, it’s the mature approach and pitch recognition that gives him the chance to be one of the game’s top hitters.
The bat has exceeded all expectations this season and will only continue to improve as he moves up the ladder.
His power was regarded as his weakest tool when the Twins made him the No. 2 overall pick in 2012. However, his advanced approach and impressive bat have allowed it to develop ahead of schedule this season, as he’s showcased plus raw power to all fields that should ultimately translate to 20-plus home runs annually at maturity.
Beyond that, Buxton should always be an extra-base machine and rank among the league leaders in total bases.
Buxton’s speed is another plus-plus tool and a product of his insanely good athleticism. Despite his lack of experience, he’s already viewed as an elite baserunner capable of taking an extra base with relative ease. His speed also caters to his present ability and future potential as basestealer, and amazingly it even plays up thanks to his high baseball IQ.
At maturity, Buxton should easily amass 30-plus steals annually.
With all that’s already been said about Buxton’s speed and overall baseball savvy, his projection as an elite defender in center field shouldn’t come as a surprise. While he has the athleticism and wheels to get almost every ball, Buxton’s jumps and aggressive (but direct) routes are especially impressive for a player his age.
With five potential plus tools to his name, it’s obvious why Buxton is regarded as baseball’s consensus No. 1 prospect. Beyond his eye-popping natural ability, the outfielder possesses secondary skills that are uncommon in a player his age.
To put it simply: Buxton has the ceiling of one of the game’s best players, if not the best, in his prime.
MLB ETA: Late 2014
Ceiling: The best player in baseball.