PIO notes: Buckley standing tall

Mustangs slugger amassing home runs with towering power

Sean Buckley has 13 home runs, including a blast that cleared the batter's eye. (Billings Mustangs)

By Greg Rachac / Special to MLB.com | August 18, 2011 6:00 AM ET

Statistics and accolades don't mean much to first-year players -- at least that's what they'll tell you. It's an old cliche, but most rookies are simply striving to get better, day in and day out.

Still, Billings slugger Sean Buckley doesn't back down from admitting his desire to win the Pioneer League's home run title. For the Reds' sixth-round pick in the 2011 Draft, it would mean an awful lot.

"Of course it would. Definitely," Buckley said. "Although I try not to let it get on my mind.

"If you try and hit home runs, you're probably just going to end up striking out. So I'm just trying to get good pitches, put good swings on them and hit balls hard. That's about all."

With 13 home runs entering Thursday, Buckley was tied for the league lead with Orem's C.J. Cron and Missoula's Jon Griffin. He's also inching closer to the club record of 20, set in 2007 by fellow third baseman Brandon Waring.

Buckley, who is batting just under .300, has hit some towering shots this season, including a crucial two-run blast in a 4-1 victory against Great Falls last Wednesday at Dehler Park in Billings. That one cleared the batter's eye in center field, which rises well above the 408-foot marker. The homer was estimated at 440 feet.

"That was amazing," Billings manager Pat Kelly said. "I knew he hit it good, and the outfielder didn't break real quick on it. But you kept expecting it to hit the batter's eye, and all of the sudden it didn't come back."

Though Buckley has proven to be a quality addition to the Reds organization, it wasn't meant to happen this way.

Buckley's father, Chris, is Cincinnati's senior director of amateur scouting, meaning he has a good deal of input when it comes to whom the Reds select -- or don't -- each year in the Draft.

Naturally, neither Chris nor Sean wanted to be paired in the same organization. Neither of them wanted to invite accusations of nepotism from certain circles. But as Sean slid to the sixth round, Chris was eventually talked into the selection.

"It wasn't the father-son" factor, Chris Buckley told MLB.com in June. "We had a number of guys see him, and they wanted to do it. At first, I was hoping he would be drafted by a different team. But our guys kept telling me I was being too tough on him."

Chris Buckley, no doubt, is proud of the way his son has performed to this point. And Sean has done himself proud, too.

"People can think or say what they want to say," he said. "But when it comes down to it, you just have to do what the Reds thought you were going to do by picking you, just proving that they made a good decision in investing in you.

"So far, it's gone well. I've had a lot of fun. The coaches are great, the teammates are great. ... I think it's worked out pretty well so far."

In brief

Keep on cycling: Orem's Jerod Yakubik and Idaho Falls' Daniel Mateo each hit for the cycle Saturday. Yakubik and Mateo joined Casper's David Kandilas, Helena's Yadiel Rivera and Orem's Taylor Lindsey as members of the cycle club this year. Prior to this season, there hadn't been a cycle in the Pioneer League since 2007.

No decision: Blair Walters didn't get the decision Saturday in the Voyagers' 8-5 victory over Billings, snapping a seven-start win streak for the Great Falls southpaw. Walters is 7-0 this season with a 2.55 ERA in 10 appearances, including nine starts.

Greg Rachac is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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