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Buxton delivers career night at plate
Twins first-rounder homers, doubles twice, plates five runs
04/26/2013 2:34 AM ET
Byron Buxton has 15 RBIs in 17 Midwest League games.
Byron Buxton has 15 RBIs in 17 Midwest League games. (Paul Gierhart/MiLB.com)

Having never played above Class A Short-Season before, Twins' No. 2 prospect Byron Buxton entered the Midwest League with tempered expectations.

But after a career night which featured three extra-base hits, he's quick to not get caught up any assumptions the other way.

Buxton went 3-for-5 with a homer, two doubles, five RBIs and four runs scored in the Class A Cedar Rapids Kernels' 16-7 win over the Great Lakes Loons on Thursday.

The 19-year-old leads the league with a .419 average, and he also ranks first with a .526 on-base percentage, a .694 slugging percentage and 17 runs scored. He knows he can't keep that pace up for six or seven months, but he says he's well equipped when the dip -- however large or small -- does inevitably come.

"I'm just glad I'm hitting well right now," he said. "I still haven't hit a slump in the Midwest League. But even when I do, I won't change my swing. I think it's just one of those things.

"It's very hard [when you're slumping]. You think you're doing something different when you're not. I know I'll just need to keep hitting the ball well and know that it will eventually find a hole."

The second overall pick in last June's Draft, Buxton smacked a three-run homer in the second inning and he doubled and scored in the sixth. He walked to force home a run in the seventh and he capped his night with another two-RBI double with one out in the eighth.

"[Great Lakes starter Angel Sanchez] threw me a 1-0 fastball for a ball outside then a fastball in," Buxton said of his third homer of the season. "I look to take the ball the other way, but I can adjust to the inside pitch.

"I was seeing the ball very well tonight. I felt good at the plate. I was patient and it showed. I was seeing the fastball well and I was hitting it when I wanted to hit it, not when I had to hit it."

Buxton appeared in 48 games across two levels last year. He hit a combined .248 with five homers, 20 RBIs and 11 steals in 14 attempts. He struck out 41 times and drew 19 free passes, something he was eager to work on this season.

With the Kernels, he currently has more walks (13) than punchouts (12), and he's on pace to shatter all of last season's highs. He also has seven steals in 17 outings. At this rate, he'd finish with 57.

"I'm getting base hits and drawing walks and driving the ball to all fields," he said. "I've not always done that, but I've been working on it a lot this offseason. I'm more patient and disciplined at the plate."

Tyler Jones (2-0) picked up the win for the Kernels out of the bullpen. He allowed three runs on three hits over 2 2/3 innings in relief of starter Brett Lee, who yielded four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits and three walks over 4 2/3 frames.

Great Loons starter Sanchez (1-2) surrendered six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits and three walks while striking out eight batters over five innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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