Twins Find Buxton At No. 2

MINNEAPOLIS The Twins spent a year looking for the right player to take with the second pick. That's about 364 days more than they needed.

Byron Buxton became Minnesota's draft target on the day the Twins first scouted him last June, and their opinion of the Baxley, Ga., outfielder never wavered.
Twins scouting director Deron Johnson remembers getting a call last June from excited area scout Jack Powell, who described a five-tool teenager with a quick, powerful swing and breathtaking speed.

"He said, 'He throws 95, he can run and he's got a good body.,' " Johnson said. "This is the guy we wanted from Day One."

That opinion only deepened when Johnson watched the 18-year-old outfielder from Appling County (Ga.) High in person. At an East Coast showcase last summer, Buxton batted against Lance McCullers, another potential first-round pick, "who was running it up there at 95 or 96 (miles an hour)," Johnson said. "And he just turned him around. I'm like, 'Oh my God, he's got a chance to be special.' "

Especially with his speed—a definite 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, Johnson said. He attended the Georgia 2A state tournament last month, just to reaffirm his staff's judgment, and watched as Buxton "scored from second base on the sacrifice fly to right field. I had never seen that before."

Buxton was offered a scholarship to play wide receiver at Georgia, and "when he signs," assistant general manager Rob Antony said, "he'll be the fastest player in our organization."

And one of the happiest. Buxton watched the draft in a gathering with a sizable portion of Baxley's population, a crowd that went crazy when the selection was announced. "It was one of the best feelings I've ever had," Buxton said. "I'm just glad the Minnesota Twins drafted me, and I'm ready to go play."

The Twins are glad he'll have the chance. Johnson said he and his staff weren't certain that Buxton, who pitched Appling County to the state title by striking out 18 batters in seven innings of the championship game, would be available—even at No. 2. They scouted Stanford pitcher Mark Appel heavily, and worked out Puerto Rico shortstop Carlos Correa in Target Field two days before the draft.

The decision "was a tough call," Johnson said, "but it ended up not being a tough call . . . You pick No. 2, you have to pick who you feel will end up being the best player. We feel Byron is the best player on the board."