BLUF: Projection for all five tools to be average or better. Dynamic up-the-middle player with power, speed and hitting ability.
The Player: Byron Buxton (OF, Appling County High School) – A small-town stud, Buxton is the star on both his high school baseball and football teams. He has flown up draft boards after some impressive showings on the showcase circuit. He is committed to the University of Georgia.
Basis of Report: Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 175): Outstanding athlete with long, lean body. Good present strength with room to add more as he matures. Fluid movements, graceful in all phases of the game, shows good coordination.
Hit: Very open stance with front foot on the outside line of the batter’s box. Stride brings front foot in line with his back foot. Doesn’t extend stride too far out front, staying on balance and keeping his head level. Quiet trigger that gets the bat ready to attack the zone. Hands work well at the plate. Has good looseness in his hands, allowing him to manipulate the barrel. Has a knack for squaring the ball. Doesn’t have great feel for the opposite field but has natural hitting mechanics to project hitting ability to all fields. Pitch recognition is raw and he has yet to see consistently good breaking balls. Has the raw tools to hit for average as he develops, but could take a while to adjust to pro pitching. Grade – 20/60
Power: Has pull power now thanks to plus-plus bat speed and some loft in his swing. Ball jumps off his bat and really carries to the left-center field gap. Has bat speed and projects for natural strength to hit 15-20 home runs with plenty of doubles at his peak. Grade (raw power) – 30/50
Arm: Smooth throwing mechanics, quick release and plenty of arm strength. Has been clocked as high as 93 mph off the mound in high school. Arm strength translates well to the outfield with good velocity and carry on his throws. Plenty of arm for center field. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Has speed to cover plenty of ground in center. Gets solid reads off the bat, particularly when he has to move to the sides. Still struggles with the ball right at him. Routes are generally solid and should continue to improve as he gains experience. Can make most plays now and shows signs of being an aggressive defender. With polish he could be a plus asset up the middle. Grade (as a shortstop) – 40/60
Speed: True plus-plus runner and borderline elite. Showcase 60-yard dash times approaching 6.6 second and home-to-first time right around four seconds from the right side. Speed isn’t always consistently elite but could be as he finishes maturing. Uses it well in the field and shows solid instincts on the bases right now. May not end up at the top of the scale, but should be close. Grade – 70/70
Summation: True potential for all five tools in an extremely athletic and explosive body. Projects for plenty of hitting ability which should allow his speed and power to play on offense. Defense and arm strength show well now and could improve more with experience. Hard worker. Will have some significant adjustments to make as a professional. Lacks consistent experience against top flight competition and will need to adjust to big velocity and quality secondary pitches. Hitting mechanics and natural instincts with the bat should allow for those adjustments to be made. Potential game-changing player that in a centerpiece on a championship level club.
Relative Risk: High. Has excellent projection in all phases of the game but remains a raw athlete that has significant risk.
Draft Projection: Easy top ten pick and arguably the top position player in the 2012 draft class. Could go as high as 1-2.