Facing a sudden shortage of outfielders, the Twins are promoting top prospect Byron Buxton from Double-A Chattanooga to make his Major League debut on Sunday.
With Torii Hunter serving a two-game suspension and Aaron Hicks scratched from the lineup Saturday due to a sore elbow, the surprising Twins needed outfield help. The answer is Buxton, MLB.com's top overall prospect, who leads all of professional baseball with 12 triples.
Buxton said he was told of the promotion by Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz during a team meeting.
"Doug brought everybody in the clubhouse and talked to us a little bit and told me I was coming up, and everyone got wild a little bit and excited," Buxton told MLB.com. "It was an unbelievable moment. It was definitely unexpected. It caught me by surprise and shock. When I heard my name, just a lot of joy and happiness went through me. I'm just blessed to get the opportunity to get called up to 'The Show.'"
The 21-year-old is hitting .283 in 59 games and also leads the Southern League with 44 runs scored while ranking second with 25 extra-base hits and 116 total bases and fourth with 37 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.
The most important of those statistics may be the 59 games played. Buxton's debut could have come sooner, but he was limited to 31 regular-season games a year ago after injuring his wrist during Spring Training, then sustaining a concussion in his Double-A debut for New Britain on Aug. 13. Even his stint in the Arizona Fall League was cut short when he dislocated his left middle finger while diving for a fly ball.
When healthy, Buxton boasts a set of tools that have put him atop most prospect rankings for more than two years. MLB Pipeline assigned him an 80 for running, 70s for hitting, arm and fielding and a 60 for power on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
"I'm not nervous now," Buxton told MLB.com. "I'm ready to get up there and get going. But I'm sure once I'm up there, the nerves will kick in a little bit."
The Twins selected Buxton out of a Georgia high school with the second overall pick in the 2012 Draft. A year later, he was named TOPPS Minor League Player of the Year and earned All-Star status in both the Midwest and Florida State leagues after posting a .334/.424/.520 slash line with 12 homers, 18 triples, 19 doubles, 77 RBIs, 109 runs scored and 55 stolen bases in 125 games across two levels.
When Buxton takes the field on Sunday in Arlington, Texas, he'll join fellow top 20 prospects Carlos Correa (No. 2), Joey Gallo (No. 8), Noah Syndergaard (No. 9), Archie Bradley (No. 12), Blake Swihart (No. 15) in the Major Leagues.
Daren Smith is an editor for MiLB.com.