Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Buxton And Sano Era Begins

In an unfortunate turn of events today, the Minnesota Twins were swept by the New York Yankees, and they lost their starting centerfielder. Arguably no one has been better since the break for Minnesota than Aaron Hicks. With a disabled list stint now confirmed, Minnesota was forced to turn to the best prospect in baseball. Byron Buxton is officially headed back to the big leagues.

Hicks' production won't be easy to replace. He's slashed .277/.310/.445 since the All Star Break, and has clubbed five home runs along with 16 runs batted in. On top of that, he's provided stellar defense in what has been a position of need for Minnesota. The guy replacing him has plenty of excitement in tow on his own however.

Buxton played just 11 games at the big league level prior to needing over a two-month long disabled list stint to recover from a sprained thumb. In those 11 games, baseball's best prospect slashed just .189/.231/.270 with a double and a triple. Having made the lead from Double-A with a bat that needed to develop, there was some well assumed growing pains. The time spent rehabbing and playing in Triple-A following the thumb injury suggests a new player may be arriving however.

For the Twins, Buxton is the type of player who could be accelerated through the farm. Likely, without the thumb injury, baseball's best prospect would have never seen Triple-A. Now having spent 13 games there, we have seen exactly why that is. Buxton had a hit in every one of his games for Rochester. He picked up eight doubles, and he batted .400 over that 13 game stretch. When Hicks went down, Buxton was more than ready.

Although the outfield of the future seemingly has Eddie Rosario, Buxton, and Hicks in it from left to right, the latter's injury will put that on hold for now. More importantly for Twins fans, August 20th represents the beginning of the future.

With Byron Buxton's initial MLB stint lasting from June 14 through June 24, and Miguel Sano's debut coming on July 2nd, the two have never been teammates at the big league level. Sano has clubbed his way into super-stardom early on in his career. He owns a .285 average, has blasted nine home runs, owns a two-home run game, and already has compiled 29 RBI. Adding the other cornerstone piece of the future in Buxton to create the tandem, makes for must watch baseball the rest of the way.

Paul Molitor will likely have to play around with lineups for the next few days to find a configuration he likes. Although batting Buxton in the leadoff spot puts pressure on the youngster, he was given the opportunity in his first go round (albeit in limited quantities). With Hicks on the DL, the leadoff spot is open however, and Buxton profiles better for the role than say Brain Dozier. If Molitor wants to be bold and shake things up, I'd off him the following suggestion:

Buxton CF
Dozier 2B
Sano DH
Plouffe 3B
Mauer 1B
Hunter RF
Rosario LF
Suzuki C
Escobar SS

At any rate, the key here is that two guys known on a last name basis, are ready to begin taking over a Twins team that fans hope once again returns to the top of the AL Central standings. Here was go Twins Territory, it's time to strap in.

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