Byron Buxton is giving opposing pitchers at Triple-A a first-hand lesson on why he's the top-rated prospect in all of baseball.
Per the Democrat & Chronicle, in 11 games since returning to action after suffering a sprained thumb while playing for the Minnesota Twins, Buxton is hitting .404 with an OPS (slugging plus on-base percentage) of .972. He's racked up 1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR, 9 runs, 6 walks and 2 stolen bases.
He added to his hot start with three hits on Sunday, including his first home run at Triple-A and a walk-off RBI single in the 12th inning.
Buxton's hot start at the highest minor league level could put to rest the theory that he's a slow starter when jumping from one level to another. But his path to Triple-A is different because he jumped from Double-A Chattanooga straight to the big leagues.
Fewer than two weeks into his career with the Twins he sprained his thumb, missed six weeks and was optioned to Rochester for a rehab stint, where he has since stayed – and dominated.
Some Twins fans are excited for Buxton's return to the majors. When that will happen is anybody's guess, but Twins Daily's Nick Nelson anticipates Buxton will make his return on Sept. 1 as a September call-up. His role then could be defined as Torii Hunter's alternate.
Since turning 40 last month, Hunter is hitting .156 and he's just 1-for-31 at the plate in August. Nelson adds that Hunter has sat six of the last 18 games, meaning there's room for Buxton if the Twins do give him the call.
For fans of the Rochester Red Wings, they are getting a glimpse of Buxton that nearly vanished when he bypassed Triple-A to go straight to the Twins.
Bob Matthews of WHAM in Rochester, New York, explains:
I’ll always wonder how special the 2015 Rochester baseball season might have been with Buxton and Sano from the start. I believe Buxton would’ve led the International League in batting average, runs and stolen bases; and Sano would’ve led the IL in home runs; and the team would’ve won the IL North and been favored to win the 11th Governors’ Cup in franchise history.
Sano also made the jump from Double-A to the Twins. He's stayed healthy and has arguably been the most intimidating presence in the Twins' lineup.