Twins prospect Byron Buxton -- whom we watched go 3-for-5 with two walks, a stolen base, an RBI and a run scored in a doubleheader Monday in Cedar Rapids -- vaulted up the MLB prospect list released this week by ESPN.com's Keith Law. Buxton was No. 22 when the season started. He's now No. 2 overall behind only Cardinals' prospect Oscar Taveras. Per Law:
Buxton was the top prospect on my board in last year's amateur draft, and his huge April (.392 BA/.510 OBP/.584 SLG) seemed to justify that ranking in striking fashion. His May hasn't been as torrid, but the raw ability that made him such a commodity out of high school -- 80-grade speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, a very quick bat, a plus arm, the potential for plus-plus defense in center -- is accompanied by more present baseball skill than I realized last spring. He's already 19, so a late-season promotion to high-A wouldn't be too aggressive if he continues to rake.
Miguel Sano, it should be noted, is No. 6 overall after being No. 11 in the preseason. As for Buxton's speed, we will say this: He was on first base when a Cedar Rapids left-handed hitter smashed a line drive single to right. Buxton had to hold up to make sure the ball didn't pelt him and to make sure it wasn't snared by the second baseman. The Burlington right fielder charged hard and threw a near-perfect strike to third. He had already gunned down one runner and had a seriously good arm (which we complimented him on when he was on-deck, and which he acknowledged politely). Even given all those circumstances, Buxton still beat the throw. Not by much, but he beat it. If he can go first-to-third on that play, he can do it on pretty much any hit to that side of second base. That is serious speed, and it is just one of his five tools. Cedar Rapids is a long way from the majors, but wow.