Current Thoughts on Byron Buxton
The Twins drafted Buxton out of high school in Baxley, Georgia, with the second-overall pick last June, signing him to a $6,000,000 bonus. Many experts felt Buxton was the best player in the draft. He certainly had the best set of tools, with excellent speed, a terrific throwing arm, and plenty of raw power. The tools are undeniable: his speed and arm strength were rated at least 70 by everyone and as high as 80 by many observers. Optimists expect that Buxton will develop into an All-Star, although even the optimists admit that it may take four or five years to fully develop his skills.
Ah, yes, his skills. For all the wonderful tools, there was an undercurrent of doubt about Buxton last spring. A distinct, but real, minority of scouts wondered if Buxton's hit tool was as strong as the optimists believed. Buxton didn't hit for a lot of power in high school games, despite facing less-than-superb competition. His plate discipline needed work, and while many sources praised his swing, others quietly said it needed adjustment for him to hit well at higher levels. Don't underestimate peer pressure; it happens in the scouting community, too
Buxton got off to a slow start in the Gulf Coast League, but heated up and earned a promotion to the Appalachian League, where he played very well. Baseball America (which reflects industry consensus and majority opinion) rated him as the top prospect in both circuits, as he hit enough to ease concerns about his bat. "Ease" concerns, certainly, but not totally eliminate them. Buxton has the tools to be a superstar, but the exact form his skills will take is still unclear. There are a wide range of possible outcomes (Andre Dawson? Cameron Maybin?), but the upside potential is high enough for me to go with a Grade B+.
(This is the rough draft of his player comment in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book)