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Updated: June 4th, 2012 6:25pm
Twins' pick at No. 2: Appling County H.S. outfielder Byron Buxton

Twins' pick at No. 2: Appling County H.S. outfielder Byron Buxton

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Curveballs were thrown early in the first round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft on Monday night, but the Minnesota Twins landed exactly who they wanted with the No. 2 overall pick -- outfielder Byron Buxton from Appling County High School in Georgia.

Buxton -- 6-2, 175 pounds, right-handed hitter -- was rated as the top high school prospect in the country by Baseball America. He is regarded as a five-tool player with perhaps more upside than anyone else in the draft and draws comparisons among scouts to B.J. and Justin Upton, and other speedy, toolsy outfielders, and his frame has room to add weight.

The Houston Astros were expected by many to select University of Stanford right-hander Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick, but they took 17-year-old Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa instead.

This left the Twins with a choice between Buxton and Appel, who wound up falling all the way to the Pittsburgh Pirates at No. 8.

Asked if Buxton was the guy the Twins wanted all along, team scouting director Deron Johnson said, "Absolutely. We targeted Byron since last summer. ... He's a five-tool player. Tremendous ceiling. He's a really good kid. Hard worker. Two sport athlete. Everybody talks about his athleticism. He's got a really good swing. We think he's going to hit. We think he'll hit anywhere from no. 1 in the order to no. 3. Tremendous, tremendous upside."

Buxton, also the quarterback for his high school team, ran a 6.5-second 60-yard dash in front of scouts earlier this year.

"He's got similar tools as Aaron Hicks, but he's faster," Johnson said. "He's an absolute 8 runner on a scale of 2-8. ...

"A lot of times guys that can run, their 60 time doesn't translate to on the field seed, especially home to first. He'll run 3.8's. ...

"We were out there scouting him three weeks ago in a playoff game. He scored from second base on the sacrifice fly to right field. I had never seen that before. The right fielder was shocked and he just kind of panicked and threw the ball into second and he just kept going. He has game-changing speed."

The Twins view Buxton as a center fielder and expect him to hit for more power as he fills out his frame.

"I think his power's going to come," Johnson said. "I think he'll hit more than his share. I think he'll have above-average power down the road."

A Baseball America scout who watched Buxton play in the Under Armour All-America Game in February wrote, "Not only did I have Buxton as my top prospect out of this event, I had him with the best OF arm strength (and best overall arm strength) and with the best hitting ability. His right handed stroke was a pleasure to watch. ... He whistled the bat with ease on an inside 93-mph fastball for a rocket line drive to LF - certainly an impressive display for a 17 year old hitter with a wood bat."

The Twins entered the draft with $12.8 million to spend on players drafted in the first 10 rounds -- a bankroll limit that stems from changes to MLB's new collective bargaining agreement. Teams have until July 13 to sign drafted players.

Buxton joins Adam Johnson (2000) and Travis Lee (1996) as the Twins' third No. 2 overall selection in team history. Johnson pitched fewer than 30 innings in the big leagues and Lee never signed with the Twins.



Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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