Stock Up, Stock Down on MLB's Top 25 Prospects After 1 Month

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterApril 28, 2014

Stock Up, Stock Down on MLB's Top 25 Prospects After 1 Month

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It has been an eventful first month of the season for some of baseball’s top prospects. For others, not so much.

    Shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder Oscar Taveras are both off to hot starts at their respective levels, with Correa batting .300/.366/.463 with 16 RBI at High-A Lancaster and Taveras batting .313/.360/.513 at Triple-A Memphis. 

    Unfortunately, a pair of top-10 prospects—as determined by Prospect Pipeline's End-of-Spring Top 100 Prospects—are sidelined with injuries, as Byron Buxton (left wrist sprain) and Addison Russell (right hamstring tear) are currently on the seven-day disabled list for their respective Double-A teams. Corey Seager also landed on the disabled list in the past week with a hamstring injury, while 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick Mark Appel was sent back to extended spring training after several unimpressive starts at High-A Lancaster.

    Here’s a look at how the rest of baseball’s top-ranked prospects fared during the third week of the minor league season.

     

    All stats courtesy of MiLB.com and reflect games through Sunday, April 27.

25. Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers

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    2014 Stats

    MLB (18 games): .258/.306/.439, 3 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 4 BB, 12 K

     

    Overview

    Castellanos continued to swing a solid bat while hitting either sixth or seventh in the Tigers’ lineup, collecting two extra-base hits—including a three-run home run Friday night against the Dodgers—and five RBI in his past six contests. He seems poised to have a strong season, but the 21-year-old will have stiff competition for the league's Rookie of the Year Award with Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Abreu, Xander Bogaerts and Yordano Ventura.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    6-for-23 (.261), 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 6 K (6 games) 

     

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24. Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros

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    Bob Levey

    2014 Stats

    High-A Lancaster (4 starts): 13 IP, 6.23 ERA, .321 BAA, 4 BB, 13 K

     

    Overview

    Appel was skipped in the High-A Lancaster rotation after his shaky start on April 14, when he allowed three runs on five hits in only three innings. However, the 2013 No. 1 overall pick didn’t fare any better his next time out (April 23), as he was hammered for three runs on six hits in 2.1 uninspiring frames.

    Following the start, the Astros removed Appel, 22, from the Lancaster rotation and assigned him to extended spring training. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow spoke with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports about the decision:

    "It was really my fault," Luhnow said. "I made a decision to send him out to Lancaster to have him try and build up there, to try to catch up for the time he missed in Florida. He ended up pitching twice on a four-day cycle and then he skipped a start and pitched on an eight-day cycle. It wasn't like he was in the tandem for a month and couldn't handle it.

    "I happened to be there last week. I watched his start. I talked to him afterward. You could just tell he was not in the flow of pro ball, irrespective of five-day, four-day, six-day. He hasn't gotten conditioned to throwing and resting, throwing and resting, the way you need to get conditioned in order to be in a five-man rotation, much less a four-man."

    So, Luhnow said, he decided to take Appel "off the grid," away from the media, away from the hitter-friendly Lancaster environment.

    "I don't expect this to be more than a couple of weeks," Luhnow said. "Really, it's just to make up for spring training. It's my fault for sending him to Lancaster. I thought he could do it there. But once I started to think back on the history of what happened, I realized that he just didn't have a proper spring training."

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    2.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 2 K (1 start) 

     

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23. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    High-A Rancho Cucamonga (20 games): .294/.337/.482, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 4 SB, 5 BB, 24 K

     

    Overview

    Seager struggled at High-A Rancho Cucamonga during the final month of the 2013 regular season, as he batted just .160 with 31 strikeouts in 27 games following a promotion from Low-A Great Lakes. The 20-year-old has showed much better this year in his return to the hitter-friendly California League, and he’s currently riding a five-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .280 with four extra-base hits and eight RBI. Unfortunately, Seager hasn’t played in a game since April 23 after landing on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    5-for-15 (.333), 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 4 K (3 games) 

     

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22. Yordano Ventura, RHP, Kansas City Royals

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    2014 Stats

    MLB (4 starts): 2-1, 25 IP, 1.80 ERA, .204 BAA, 9 BB, 27 K

     

    Overview

    Ventura struggled in his April 20 start against the Twins for the first time in the major leagues, allowing four earned runs on six hits and four walks in only four innings. However, the 22-year-old flamethrower made up for it with the finest performance of his young career on Friday night, establishing new career highs with eight strikeouts in eight scoreless frames against a dangerous Orioles offense.

    Manager Ned Yost touched on Ventura’s performance after the game (via the Chicago Tribune):

    "I think that's as good as I've seen him," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had everything going tonight. I mean good fastball, his curveball, that was probably the most consistent curveball he's had all year, and a great changeup. He just pitched a great game."

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    1-0, 8 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (1 start) 

     

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21. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

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    Tony Gutierrez

    2014 Stats

    Double-A Pensacola (5 games/4 starts): 2-1, 22.1 IP, 4.43 ERA, .229 BAA, 15 BB, 29 K

     

    Overview

    After allowing one hit with 11 strikeouts in his season debut for Double-A Pensacola, Stephenson struggled with his control in his next two starts, allowing a combined eight hits, nine walks and seven earned runs in 6.1 innings.

    The 21-year-old right-hander’s two outings last week were a step in the right direction, though he did allow a trio of home runs on Saturday against Braves affiliate Double-A Mississippi. That being said, it still was nice to see Stephenson bounce back with a much-improved 15-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 11 innings.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    11 IP, 10 H (3 HR), 4 ER, 5 BB, 15 K (2 starts)  

     

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20. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Overview

    According to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter), Zimmer, who has yet to make his 2014 debut, is still pitching in extended spring training and is on track to join Double-A Northwest Arkansas in middle to late May.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

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19. Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Double-A Tulsa (4 starts): 1-2, 18.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, .250 BAA, 3 BB, 19 K

     

    Overview

    Folks were starting to become worried after Gray’s dismal second start of the season for Double-A Tulsa, when the right-hander surrendered six earned runs on seven hits and failed to complete the first inning. However, the 22-year-old has washed away any previous concerns in his last two starts, allowing one earned run on five hits with a 13-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 11.2 innings.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    6 IP, 3 H, ER, 0 BB, 8 K (1 start)*

     

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    *Does not include Gray’s start on April 28 vs. Northwest Arkansas. 

18. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Steven Senne

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Overview

    Bundy, 21, continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery last spring, and the news continues to get better. According to Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter), Bundy threw a 40-pitch bullpen session last Wednesday that included eight breaking balls – the first ones he had thrown since the surgery. If all goes as planned in his recovery, Bundy could be ready to rejoin the Orioles (if there’s a need, that is) sometime around the All-Star break.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    N/A

     

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17. George Springer, OF, Houston Astros

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    MLB (12 games): .170/.264/.213, 2 2B, 2 RBI, SB, 5 BB, 15 K

     

    Overview

    Springer hit safely in his first five games after joining the Astros, but since then the 24-year-old outfield has gone 2-for-25 with eight strikeouts in seven contests. He’s served as the Astros’ cleanup hitter in 10 of his 12 games, so the environment hasn’t exactly been ideal for Springer to settle in at the highest level. Plus, strikeout (28.3 percent) and walk (9.4 percent) rates thus far aren’t far off his career averages, and his .250 BABIP suggests that his batting average should begin to trend in the right direction.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    2-for-25 (.080), 2B, RBI, 4 BB, 8 K (7 games)

     

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16. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    Double-A Tennessee (23 games): .300/.434/.575, 7 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 5 SB, 15 BB, 27 K

     

    Overview

    Kris Bryant just doesn’t stop. The 22-year-old slugger has been an offensive force this season in his first taste of the Double-A level, as he’s currently tied for the Southern League lead with five home runs and ranks third with a 1.009 OPS. Even when he’s not hitting for power, Bryant has proven to be an advanced enough hitter to still get his hits and coax plenty of walks. He’ll always feature some swing-and-miss, but Bryant’s on-base skills and insane pop should mostly offset that element of his game.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    9-for-29 (.310), 3 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K (7 games) 

     

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15. Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gene J. Puskar

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A Indianapolis (23 games): .400/.460/.644, 20 R, 6 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 4 SB, 9 BB, 15 K

     

    Overview

    My money is on Polanco to be the next big-name call-up; though, the organization has always been deliberately cautious in promoting its top prospects. Still, with the Pirates scuffling through the first month of the season, it’s increasingly difficult to ignore the reality that Polanco can actually help the club.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    10-for-26 (.385), 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 5 BB, 8 K (7 games)

     

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14. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals

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    Alex Brandon

    2014 Stats

    Low-A Hagerstown (5 starts): 1-0, 21.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, .192 BAA, 11 BB, 24 K

     

    Overview

    Giolito allowed two earned runs and failed to complete five innings in both starts last week after turning in five scoreless frames in back-to-back outings the previous week. He didn’t pitch poorly in either start, but too many deep counts and walks (six in 8.1 innings) led to earlier-than-expected departures.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    8.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 6 BB, 9 K (2 starts)

     

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13. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    High-A Daytona (19 games): .269/.284/.385, 6 2B, HR, 10 RBI, 0 BB, 8 K

     

    Overview

    Almora’s aggressive approach—zero walks in 81 plate appearances and counting—has caught up to him in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, though he’s still batting a respectable .269 (especially for a 20-year-old) with seven extra-base hits on the season. However, his low strikeout rate (9.9 percent) and career-low .286 BABIP means his average will improve.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    5-for-24 (.208), 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K (5 games)

     

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12. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    Double-A San Antonio (18 games): .225/.257/.324, 4 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 0 BB, 13 K

     

    Overview

    Hedges has struggled to get things started at the plate this season—his first full campaign at the Double-A level—with a .581 OPS and 13-0 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 18 games. The 21-year-old had one hit last week heading into Sunday’s game but finished on a positive note by going 2-for-4 with his fourth double of the season. More importantly, at least in my opinion, Hedges has posted a 39 percent caught-stealing rate this season with only one passed ball in 17 games behind the plate.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    3-for-23 (.130), 2B, 5 K (6 games)

     

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11. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Overview

    Sano will not play this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the spring.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    N/A

     

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10. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A Norfolk (5 starts): 0-1, 21.1 IP, 2.53 ERA, .266 BAA, 11 BB, 20 K

     

    Overview

    Gausman followed his scoreless season debut at Triple-A Norfolk with a pair of shaky outings, allowing a combined six earned runs on 11 hits and six walks in only seven innings. Thankfully, the right-hander has righted the ship in his last two outings, with 9.2 scoreless innings and a 9-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Gausman is ready to join the Orioles rotation whenever they’re ready for him.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 5 K (1 start) 

     

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9. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A Las Vegas (5 starts): 3-2, 25 IP, 5.04 ERA, .296 BAA, 10 BB, 21 K

     

    Overview

    Syndergaard turned in three good-but-not-great starts to begin his season, logging at least five innings and allowing no more than three earned runs in each outing. The 21-year-old right-hander struck out a season-high six batters on Friday but still yielded three earned runs on six hits and completed only five innings.

    Don’t read too far into his 5.04 ERA and .296 opponents' batting average; it’s normal for young pitchers to struggle (at least initially) in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    5 IP, 6 H (HR), 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (1 start)

     

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8. Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    High-A High Desert/Double-A Jackson (2 starts): 9.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R (ER), 2 BB, 17 K

     

    Overview

    Taijuan Walker was expected to open the season in the Mariners’ starting rotation, but after he dealt with shoulder inflammation for most of the spring and failed to appear in a major league game, the organization ultimately sent the right-hander to the minor leagues to build arm strength and get back on track.

    After a pair of impressive starts at High- and Double-A, the 21-year-old was supposed to throw for Triple-A Tacoma in mid-April but was a last-minute scratch with shoulder stiffness. However, Walker is expected to throw from 60 feet on Monday and Tuesday and then be reassessed, per Todd Dybas of the Tacoma News Tribune (via Twitter).

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    N/A

     

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7. Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2014 Stats

    Double-A Midland (2 games): 5-for-7, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB, K

     

    Overview

    Russell, 20, recovered from a right hamstring injury suffered during spring training in time for the start of the Double-A season, and he made an immediate impact by going 5-for-7 with a double and home run in his first two games.

    Unfortunately, Russell’s hamstring injury flared up once again during that second game, this time resulting in a Grade 3 strain and a trip to the disabled list, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

    Most expected Russell to reach the major leagues later this season, but his injury is a major setback that could potentially push back his debut to 2015.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    N/A

     

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6. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Mark Nolan/Getty Images

    2014 Stats 

    Triple-A Reno (5 starts): 1-4, 24.1 IP, 5.18 ERA, .277 BAA, 12 BB, 23 K

     

    Overview

    After a pair of impressive starts to begin the season at Triple-A Reno, Bradley, 21, has now struggled in three consecutive outings, failing to complete five innings in each. Between the three games, the highly touted right-hander has posted an 8.76 ERA with 19 hits allowed and a 15-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12.1 innings.

    As with Syndergaard, it’s not uncommon for a young hurler to struggle in his first taste of the Pacific Coast League. However, Bradley’s early season control issues have been reminiscent of his very impressive but inconsistent 2012 full-season debut. The Diamondbacks won’t promote Bradley until he shows improvement on that front and the team is in a better place overall.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    8 IP, 12 H, 8 ER, 6 BB, 11 K (2 starts)

     

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5. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

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    Paul Sancya

    2014 Stats

    Double-A Akron (21 games): .265/.337/.410, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB, 8 BB, 15 K

     

    Overview

    The switch-hitting Lindor got off to a hot start at Double-A Akron this season, hitting safely in six straight games and batting .308 during that span. Lindor cooled off in the subsequent weeks but has fared better at the plate as of late, batting .304 with two extra-base hits in his last six games.

    Expect Lindor to debut at some point during the second half of the season, as the Indians will want him to log meaningful experience in the major leauges this year before taking over for Asdrubal Cabrera in 2015.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    7-for-23 (.304), 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, SB, 2 BB, 5 K (6 games)

     

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4. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

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    Chris Carlson

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A Iowa (14 games): .164/.207/.327, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 21 K

     

    Overview

    Baez’s early season struggles at Triple-A Iowa continued last week following his return from the seven-day disabled list for a minor hamstring injury. The 21-year-old has been a slow starter for most of his professional career, whether to open a season or following a midseason promotion to a more advanced level. It just takes him some time to find his rhythm and timing at the plate. In six games since coming off the shelf, Baez is batting .172 with one extra-base hit and 11 strikeouts.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    5-for-25 (.200), 3 R, 3B, 4 RBI, 8 K (5 games)

     

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3. Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    Triple-A Memphis (21 games): .313/.360/.513, 4 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K

     

    Overview

    Oscar Taveras is back and hitting up a storm at Triple-A Memphis. The 21-year-old outfielder is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting .342 with two home runs. The Cardinals called up Randal Grichuk from Triple-A on Monday, per Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, but Taveras has seen increased playing time in center field lately, which suggests the organization is exploring ways to get his bat in the lineup sooner rather than later this season.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    6-for-16 (.375), HR, BB, K (4 games)

     

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2. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

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    Pat Sullivan

    2014 Stats

    High-A Lancaster (20 games): .300/.366/.463, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB, 9 BB, 15 K

     

    Overview

    Carlos Correa moves up to No. 2 following Xander Bogaerts’ graduation to rookie status, and there isn’t a player more deserving of the ranking. Correa has been outstanding at High-A Lancaster this season, with nine multi-hit performances in his first 20 games. The 19-year-old has been on fire during his current five-game hitting streak, with a .474 batting average and three extra-base hits.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    6-for-16 (.375), 2 2B, 3B, 2 SB, 3 BB, 6 K (4 games) 

     

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1. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Stats

    N/A

     

    Overview

    Buxton suffered a left wrist sprain on March 19 while diving for a ball in minor league camp and has spent the first month of the minor league season on the disabled list. According LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, Buxton was scheduled to play three innings in an extended spring training game on Saturday. It was previously reported that Buxton could be ready to debut at Double-A New Britain in early May.

     

    Last Week’s Stats

    N/A 

     

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