Discussion

Is Byron Buxton No. 1 or not?

Updated: April 20, 2012, 1:25 PM ET
By Kiley McDaniel

I journeyed to rural Baxley, Ga., to catch two games of the consensus top player in the 2012 draft, Appling County High School center fielder Byron Buxton. I came away with two main thoughts and the first is unsurprising: Buxton has remarkable tools.

The Tools

Last week, Keith Law wrote up Buxton and I saw very similar tools. Buxton has a projectable 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame that houses unbelievable amounts of quick twitch. He's got huge bat speed, developing power, an easy plus arm, and blinding speed that plays well in center. He does it all easier than any amateur I've seen before. The upside for Buxton is something like a .290 hitter with 20 homers, perennial Gold Glove defense in center and as many steals as he wants.

Scouts reported getting 70 and 75 (on the 20-80 scale, 50 being average) home-to-first run times when Buxton was taking a turn to second base. I have video of a bang-bang play at first where he got there well under 4.0 seconds, the standard for 80 speed for a right-handed hitter. Buxton's speed is literally off the charts.

I saw his arm a little weaker than Keith and some other scouts have seen it, too. Buxton was 89-91 mph in a short relief outing and showed a 60 arm from the outfield for me while others have seen a 70 or 80 arm that's into the mid-90s on the mound.

While that's exciting talent, it was what I expected to see. The second thought I took away from these two games is more controversial and isn't so much a scouting observation as it is a philosophical question.

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