Buxton smacks first Fall League homer

Top Twins prospect always searching for things to improve on

Byron Buxton is hitting .263 in four AFL games for Glendale. (Walter Barnard/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / MiLB.com | October 14, 2013 9:04 PM ET

Last winter, baseball's top prospect Byron Buxton said he was going to seek out as advice from coaches, instructors and teammates to improve his already impressive skill set.

Despite collecting almost 500 at-bats over 125 Minor League games in his first full season of professional ball this year, the first-rounder knows there's still room to improve.

The Twins outfielder went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer as the Glendale Desert Dogs beat the Peoria Javelinas, 5-1, in the Arizona Fall League on Monday evening.

After such a busy regular season filled with accolades and superlatives, what area of his game is he looking to work on most? The perfectionist in him knows it's never just one thing.

"Basically everything," said Buxton, who doesn't turn 20 until a week before Christmas. "Offensively, I want to try to keep spreading the ball out to all fields a lot and defensively just keep getting good jumps and good reads. Every day I'm doing that during BP. Base running, just try to get good jumps and get myself in a good position."

Buxton beat out an infield single to shortstop Nolan Fontana in the first inning before grounding out in the second and fourth frames.

In the seventh, the center fielder smacked left-hander Austin Wright's 0-2 pitch to deep left field, over the 380 feet sign at Camelback Ranch.

The outing gave Buxton his first multi-hit game of the AFL and it raised his average to .263. He had recorded a double and two singles while striking out five times in 15 at-bats.

"I went up there trying to hit the ball to the right side," said Buxton, who also made a throwing error from center field in the fifth. "[Wright] threw me a fastball and I took it. He threw me another fastball inside and I took it. Then he threw me a slider inside and my two-strike approach just let me turn on it. You can tell when you really get one.

"I'm not trying to hit home runs, just trying to have good quality at-bats while I'm down here. Trying to help my team out and that was what I did."

Buxton hit .341 with eight homers and 55 RBIs in 68 Midwest League games with Class A Cedar Rapids this season and he batted .326 in 57 Florida State League contests following his promotion to Class A Advanced Fort Myers.

In total, Buxton scored 109 runs, plated 77 runs and swiped 55 bases between the two levels. He earned a selection to the Futures Game at Citi Field in New York this summer and he was named the Midwest League's MVP and Prospect of the Year.

Selected by the Minnesota Twins second overall in the 2012 Draft out of Georgia's Appling County High School, Buxton is excited to extend his season by facing the best pitching prospects in the game.

The top prospect in Minnesota's system spent two-and-a-half weeks at home with friends and family between the end of the regular season and the start of the AFL, but now it's back to work before the winter.

"They've got more than just the fastball to fall back on," Buxton said of the pitchers competing in Arizona. "They go in and out and mix up their pitches real well. They can throw a curve when they want it, a changeup when they want it."

On Monday, Glendale starter Alex Meyer (1-0) struck out three batters over two perfect innings and threw 17 of 21 pitches for strikes to earn his first victory.

"I felt really good. Obviously, fastball command was [the] big thing from the other night," said Meyer, who allowed three runs on five hits over three innings in his AFL debut last Tuesday. "I used my off-speed stuff. I wasn't really able to do last time out as much as would have liked. I feel like I made a good adjustment. Our pitching coach was able to help me out with that. I had a good one going tonight. I was able to get them to chase it put them away when I needed to.

"I just want to go out here and make up innings from when I was hurt. The main thing, though, is to play against the best talent I've ever played against. I want to show I can handle this quality of baseball and show the Twins that I'm hopefully able to help them out as soon as they're ready for me."

Glendale leadoff hitter Micah Johnson (White Sox) was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored and left fielder Yorman Rodriguez (Reds) and first baseman Max Kepler (Twins) both collected a pair of hits and a run.

Left-hander Kyle Hunter (Mariners) took the loss after yielding two runs on eight hits and a walk over three frames.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MiLB.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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