"This guy is better than (Pirates outfielder Andrew) McCutchen," a National League crosschecker says. "He's probably the best player I've scouted."
In baseball, five-tool players are players that can hit for average, hit for power, have base running skills and speed, can throw, and can field. When you think of some of the great five-tool players of all time you generally think of Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., and Willie Mays. Byron Buxton of Appling County has a chance to be the Astros next big thing.
At 6'3" and 180 lbs, Byron Buxton has the chance to not only be a five tool player, but to be a difference maker at the next level. Buxton is very athletic and led his team to a state championship this year hitting .545/.649/.852 and stealing 35 bases in 36 attempts. In the Class AA GHSA State Baseball championship, Buxton struck out 18 batters in seven innings of work. Buxton dominated on the bath paths in which after a walk he stole 2nd base and went from 1st to 3rd when the throw from the catcher sailed into shallow centerfield. That is the definition of wrecking havoc on the base paths.
Out of Byron's five potential tools, his speed is bar far his best tool where he has been clocked in the range of 3.89 to 4.0 seconds from home to 1st and graded out to a 70 grade on an 80 scale. That's what the French call c'est très rapide meaning "that's very fast!"
It was earlier this month, the second round of Georgia's Class AA state playoffs. In the first inning of the Pirates' game against Coosa High, Buck walked and stole second. "He was on second base when our hitter hit a ball to fairly deep rightfield," said Pollack. "It wasn't like there was a bobble, the right fielder fielded it pretty cleanly. But Buck tags up, and runs to third, then turns the corner, and runs home. And he scores. I didn't even know it was possible.'"
Speed might be Buxton's best tool, but it's his raw power that is going to be the ticket that everyone is going to be waiting in line for. In the first video below, you will get to see Buxton park homeruns in the left field bleachers in last year's home run derby before the Under Armour-All-American Game.
He has good bat speed with a smooth easy swing that should generate power as he gets older. His swing doesn't have a lot of moving parts in that he starts with his front foot behind his lead shoulder and brings his lead foot in with a simple toe tap used as a timing mechanism. Buxton keeps his hands close to his body rather than away from his body which usually leads to a long swing. By keeping his hands close to his body, this along with his bat speed should help him in developing from amateur baseball to professional baseball and allow him to hit for average and power. Buxton approach at the plate is a patient approach and doesn't go outside of his zone to go after bad pitches. Even for high school, a .545/.649 line is impressive.
Defensively, Buxton can cover a lot of real estate in the outfield and features an above average arm that has touched up to 98mph on the mound. Depending on where Buxton ends up in the outfield, Buxton will have to work on routes to ball much like every amateur that makes the jump to professional ball. It's simply a faster game, where balls are hit harder and to all part of the field. Buxton's athleticism should allow him to adapt and make the developmental transition.
It's hard to put a floor rating on a player that is so talented, but here we go. Buxton will need to...work on knitting, his paper mache skills, learn to speak Portuguese? Ok! Buxton much like any amateur or international free agent prospect is still very raw and generally has a lower floor to go with his impressively high ceiling. Buxton will need to continue to work on his pitch recognition and plate discipline, in game adjustments, routes to balls in the outfield, and develop his power stroke at the next level. His floor could compare to the other Upton brother that he is compared to in B.J Upton.
Byron Buxton has the tools to be a superstar-MVP caliber type player. He is a player that the Astros can build around and will be a difference maker on the field. Buxton's ceiling could be similar to that of Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, Justin Upton, or Adam Jones.
Where is he projected to go right now?
There is absolutely no question that Byron Buxton is one to top 3 draft picks in the 2012 draft class and is considered by many...including this guy to be the top draft prospect in the 2012 draft. Buxton is likely to go #1 to the Houston Astros, but if the Astros decide to go in a different direction with the top pick the Astros can expect a gift basket everyday for the next five years when Buxton is competing for an MVP crown for the Minnesota Twins or the Seattle Mariners.
What Scouts say about him...
Buxton emerged last summer and fall as the top position player in the 2012 draft class, first with his premium, athletic body and blazing speed, then with his emerging power potential and intriguing bat. Buxton has a chance to be a true five-tool player if his bat develops as hoped. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder has a high-waisted frame that oozes projection. He hasn't hit for big power this spring, with just two home runs, though he flashes plus raw power in batting practice and was runner-up (to Lewis Brinson) in last year's home run derby prior to the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Buxton's speed plays more presently, as he steals bases easily and covers acres of ground in center field. Some scouts have given him top-of-the-scale grades for both his speed (others call it well above-average) and at times for his throwing arm. He's shown a low-maintenance swing with a good path and premium bat speed that should allow him to hit for both average and power. Buxton will have to adjust to quality pitching, especially breaking balls. But as an amateur, he's shown the ability to sit back on off-speed pitches and hit them with authority the other way. Comparisons for Buxton range from Matt Kemp to a hybrid of brothers B.J. and Justin. Like Justin Upton, and he ranks as the top talent in his draft class.
There may not have been another player who helped his stock more over the summer than Buxton, the toolsy Georgia high school outfielder. Buxton performed well at a variety of showcases, particularly the East Coast Showcase, to put him firmly at the top of many prospect lists.
Buxton's best present tool is his speed, which is plus, and should serve him very well both as a basestealer and an outfielder. He's not just a runner, though, showing some ability with the bat. He's got a line-drive stroke with gap power right now. The ball can jump off his bat at times. Defensively, he has the chance to be above-average across the board.
Buxton is still more tools than polish, but the more he plays, the better he gets and many teams will gladly bring him into the fold and allow him to develop into an impact-type player.
Harold Reynolds: "Byron Buxton is one of those unique athletes that you rarely come across. He has the chance to be a once-in-a-generation player. The Astros (with the first overall pick) need to be thinking long term and not worry about drafting a player who is going to make an immediate impact. Buxton has the chance to be a star when he reaches the majors, and he'll be another nice piece in Houston's youth movement."
John Hart: "There are very few players that come up and make an immediate impact at the major league level. This is a sport where players go through learning stages and develop in the minor leagues. With that said, if you're looking for that player who has the chance to make the biggest impact, I'd take Buxton No. 1. He's a middle-of-the-diamond player with a big-time arm and speed. I think his offense has to catch up to his defense, but he has high upside."
Greg Amsinger: "The best all-around player in this draft is Buxton. He's totally projectable. He won't be quick to the big leagues, but he's special. He's a grinder and usually you don't hear that word associated with the superstar talent. Anybody who is a legend wherever they played high school sports, I always find special. That's what he is. ... I think he could be the next Justin Upton."
"Byron Buxton is one of those unique athletes that you rarely come across. He has the chance to be a once-in-a-generation player. The Astros (with the first overall pick) need to be thinking long term and not worry about drafting a player who is going to make an immediate impact. Buxton has the chance to be a star when he reaches the majors, and he'll be another nice piece in Houston's youth movement."
-MLB Network's Harold Reynolds
I usually don't do summaries for draft picks, but since I have become president of the Byron Buxton fan club that meets every Tuesday night at Pizza Hut, I feel that it is my presidential obligation to give my Buxton-State of Address.
"My fellow Astros fans! It's me native_astro, the guy that hates crinkle fries like no other, has a weird fascination with Drayton and Tall Smith Muppets, had too much to drink in college and did...well that's not the point."
The Astros need to concentrate on building this franchise for the long term and not concentrate on the quickest way back to respectability. Drafting Byron Buxton would be a huge step in the right direction for this franchise that is trying to find a new identity and find its way back to contention. The Astros front office and fan base must show patience with draft picks and amateur signings and not be tempted to tack the easy way out by drafting or signing players that can expedite through the system and add immediate help. I think that you can do both, but if your going to choose between high ceiling and quick path to the majors, YOU CHOOSE HIGH CEILING 10 out 10 times! Hopefully, on Monday the Astros will add a player that this franchise can build around for the next 5-10 years and a new face of the franchise that this organization so desperately needs right now. Buxton could be the next great Houston Astros baseball player and the next generation of the Killer B's.