Byron 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 path to the ball 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.
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 speed allowed it to develop ahead of schedule this past season, and he 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 base stealer, and amazingly it plays up even more thanks to his high baseball IQ.
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.
Unfortunately, Buxton was put on the shelf towards the end of the fall season with a minor shoulder injury that he suffered early in the AFL, which explains a lot of the swings I saw in person.
In each look, the explosiveness that I came to love this summer was dialed back, and he appeared slightly tentative at times during games—which normally suggests the hitter is fearful of swinging through a pitch and worsening an injury.