A dedicated ESPNHS team managed the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year selection process, resulting in this winner based on the program's three pillars: athletic production and impact in the 2011-12 season, high academic achievement and exemplary personal character.
For his 47 fellow Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year winners, click here.
THE WINNER: Byron Buxton
School: Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
Weight: 175 pounds
Athletic achievement: Buxton led the Pirates (33-2) to a berth in the Class AA state final against Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.), scheduled for May 29. At the time of his selection, he owned a 9-0 record on the mound with five saves, a 1.78 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 67 innings. The No. 2 ranked prospect in the Class of 2012 as rated by ESPNHS, Buxton also batted .523 with three home runs, 31 RBI and 36 stolen bases through 35 games.
Academic excellence: Buxton has maintained a B average in the classroom.
Exemplary character: A devoted member of his church community, he has volunteered locally as a youth baseball coach.
“Byron Buxton is the biggest game-changing player that I have seen in Georgia since (Kansas City Royals outfielder) Jeff Francoeur,” said Josh Cole, head coach at Tatnall County (Reidsville, Ga.). “Not only is he a five-tool player, but he is also so exceptional in all of those areas. There is no real comparison in high school baseball.”
THE FUTURE: Buxton has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on an athletic scholarship at the University of Georgia this fall, but is projected as an early round selection in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.