Byron Buxton named Minor League Player of the Year

Twins prospect Byron Buxton named Minor League Player of the Year

9/12/13 in MLB   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

When the Houston Astros threw a figurative curveball and selected Carlos Correa with the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, a player who may soon be among the league's greatest just may have fallen into the lap of the Minnesota Twins. Correa is no slouch and was considered one of the draft's safest picks, but outfielder Byron Buxton unquestionably has the highest upside in the draft class and was No. 1 on most teams' draft boards.

Blog Photo - Byron Buxton named Minor League Player of the YearNow at the age of 19, Buxton has already shown the baseball world why he was such a highly touted prospect - Baseball America has named Buxton their 2013 Minor League Player of the Year.

Buxton is a true five-tool outfielder, possessing all the traits necessary to make an impact in every facet of the game. He showed his sensational ability in 2013 at both Class-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, posting an absurd .334/.424/.520 line across 125 games. He added 12 home runs, 77 RBI, 109 runs scored, and 55 steals in the process. He was an obvious choice for the award.

This is a kid who - when he was 18 years old - was clocked at 99 mph while pitching, and also blasted a home run into the top row of Wrigley Field's left field bleachers. He may not be ready in the near future, as he is raw and the Twins tend to bring their prospects along slowly, but whenever he does come up, he is likely to be an incredibly dangerous weapon.

You may be the "I'll believe it when I see it in the Majors" type when it comes to minor league prospects, but some of the past winners of Baseball America's award may get you a little higher on Buxton. First given out in 1981, Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year award has been won by Dwight Gooden, Jose Canseco, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, and Mike Trout, just to name a few. Some of the players who have won it turned out to be busts, of course, but there are plenty of Hall of Fame names on the list.

In addition, due to Buxton's ability to do pretty much everything, he could still be a valuable MLB player even if one or two of his traits don't pan out as he moves up through the Twins' system.

Blog Photo - Byron Buxton named Minor League Player of the Year
Buxton's 2013 numbers are shockingly similar to that of another recent baseball prodigy, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Check out their numbers side by side on the chart to the right, along with Baseball America's future grades of each prospect.

According to Baseball America's projections of Buxton, it looks like he'll be Mike Trout with a better arm - that's a pretty scary thought.

Those who were around Buxton during his games lighting up Single-A opponents were just as impressed as his lofty numbers would suggest. One scout was quoted as saying that Buxton is "the best minor leaguer I've ever seen."

Class-A Palm Beach manager Johnny Rodriguez even went as far as to compare Buxton to Trout. "Buxton was by far the best prospect I have seen in a long, long time other than Trout," Rodriguez said. "Trout has more power, but Buxton probably does more. He has a better arm. He is a better defender than Trout, with better range and jumps. They're both so explosive, and Buxton probably is a better hitter. He has fewer holes than Trout had."

Those are some strong, extremely encouraging words. If Buxton could be even close to as good as Trout has been through his first two MLB seasons, Buxton would be one of the best baseball players in the world. Although it's still early in his minor league career, Buxton is on track to possibly be even better than Trout - Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow just may step down after trying to get cute at the top of the draft.

Currently ranked as MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, I'm sure I am not alone when I say that I can't wait to see Buxton up in the Majors. He's the next high-profile phenom (i.e. Bryce Harper or Mike Trout) to be waiting in the wings with the whole baseball world waiting to see what he can do at the world's highest level of the game.
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