Buxton takes batting practice at Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS — Outfielder Byron Buxton, the No. 2 overall selection the First-Year Player Draft, was at Target Field on Tuesday, as he underwent a physical and took batting practice before the Twins’ game against the Phillies.
According to sources close to the negotiations, the Twins have reached an agreement with Buxton and an official announcement is expected to come on Wednesday. It is still unknown, however, if Buxton will sign at or below Major League Baseball’s recommended slot bonus of $6.2 million.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said that nothing is official yet, but added he was happy to have Buxton around to meet Twins players, coaches and executives before Tuesday’s game. Buxton, who was joined by his family, his agent, Al Goetz, and Twins scout, Jack Powell, also took batting practice with Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit.
“We brought him in to expose him to our Major League coaches and our manager and our players,” Ryan said. “I thought he did quite well out there for a young guy that came up here, 18 years old, not been around the type of caliber that these guys are. I’m proud of that. It was good to see. We didn’t want to see balls going up in the cage and so forth. We wanted to see them go out, and that’s exactly what he did.”
Buxton — using a bat given to him by Mauer — sprayed the ball over the field and hit one homer into the bullpen in left-center field. Buxton said it was especially cool to get the bat from Mauer and to get his own personalized Twins jersey with his name and No. 1 on the back of it.
“It was great,” Buxton said. “I wasn’t nervous. I was just being myself and relaxed and I stayed calm.”
The five-tool outfielder batted. 513 with three homers, 17 doubles and 35 RBIs in his senior season at Appling County High School (Ga.). He also went 10-0 with 154 strikeouts over 81 innings as a pitcher, including an 18-strikeout performance to clinch his high school’s first state title.
He’s expected to begin his professional career in the Gulf Coast League with the chance to move up to Rookie-level Elizabethton (Tenn.) by the end of the season.
“I’m very excited,” Buxton said. “I’m ready to start playing.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire liked what he saw from Buxton, as he had the chance to meet him for the first time and watch him run around and take batting practice.
“I just told him to enjoy it — ‘Congratulations, enjoy the heck out of this. Be yourself and let your ability take over and go have some fun’” Gardenhire said. “He’s a nice-looking young man. We’ll see how he does when he gets down to the Minor Leagues, but he looks like he’s got a lot of tools. He looks like he’s a talented young man, which he must be or we wouldn’t have drafted him with the second pick.”
Click here for a link to see Buxton take practice at Target Field.
And here are some photos I took of Buxton: