Byron Buxton was struggling through a second consecutive disappointing season in the majors before a strong September finish gave hope that the former top prospect may be ready to become a star. After hitting just .193 with one homer in his first 63 games in the majors, Buxton finished the season strong by batting .287 with 10 homers and a 1.011 OPS after he was called up again in September. He still needs to improve his low walk rate and terrible strikeout rate, but his power surge is likely for real as he hit 11 home runs with a .927 OPS at Triple-A. Buxton posses outstanding speed, which makes him a plus defender and should result in impact stolen-base totals if he can get on base more frequently. He's set to start in center field for the Twins and should get every chance to prove his September ascendance is for real.
Buxton is not in Sunday's starting lineup, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Buxton has shown some improvement the last three games as he's 2-for-8, but he has four strikeouts. Buxton's struggles (6-for-58 with 27 strikeouts) have seen him get some days off, but the Twins have said they are not ready yet to send him to the minors.
Buxton went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in Thursday's loss to Cleveland. Despite hitting just .082 with 24 strikeouts in 49 at-bats, manager Paul Molitor said he's not ready to send him to the minors. "We're not at that point, so I don't want to waste too much time talking about that, but obviously it's not an unexpected question because people are going to wonder," Molitor told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Buxton has been playing outstanding defense in center field, but he'll need to improve at the plate to stay in the majors and avoid another trip to Triple-A. He's just 1-for-15 with five strikeouts in his last six games.
Buxton is not in the lineup Monday against the Indians. Buxton is off to a brutal start, slashing just .093/.152/.140 with 23 strikeouts through 43 at-bats, so he'll get the day off to clear his head as Max Kepler takes over in center field. He'll look to get things on track when he returns to the lineup, which should be Tuesday.
Buxton is in the Twins' lineup Thursday, batting ninth and playing center field. Flyball pitcher Phil Hughes takes the mound on Thursday, which probably prompted Minnesota to reinsert the struggling Buxton for defensive purposes after only a one-day breather. The experiment of hitting him third likely was ill-advised and looks to be over, as they hope he'll fix the struggles he displayed during his 2-for-29 start (with 17 strikeouts) with less pressure on him. There's still plenty to like about the 23-year-old's season-long -- and career -- potential, but he'll need to climb out of this hole to increase the optimism over his fantasy value.
Buxton is out of the lineup Wednesday against the Tigers, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Eddie Rosario will start in center field against right-hander Michael Fulmer. Buxton has looked completely lost at the dish early on this season, going 2-for-29 with 17 strikeouts to one walk. A recent move down in the batting order (down to the eight-hole) hasn't helped matters. While the 23-year-old has flashed brilliance on the defensive side, and the team has every incentive to let him learn on the job, Buxton will need to show some signs of improvement to justify a regular spot in the lineup.
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