Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton has gone from Double-A to the Major Leagues to Triple-A to the Major Leagues to Triple-A to the Major Leagues to Triple-A and back to the Major Leagues once again since the beginning of 2015.
Buxton, who was the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball prior to the 2014 season, has almost been like a card in a deck, being shuffled constantly.
It has got to be frustrating for him. His longest stint in the Major Leagues over the past two years was a 169-plate appearance run he received from May 31 to August 5 of this year, not nearly enough time to adjust to big league pitching, a huge step up from Triple-A.
In one respect, it's somewhat ridiculous that the Twins have not allowed him to work through the growing pains of being in the Major Leagues at age 22. It's not like they're contending and he's hurting their playoff chances. The 2016 season for the team should be one to see the future, and if Buxton is down in Triple-A for more than half the year, they aren't doing things right.
Granted, with all that hype, Buxton's big league career has been uneventful to say the least, and that may be an understatement. In 356 plate appearances at this level, he's hit .199/.248/.319 with three home runs and 22 RBI. He has not been able to showcase his 80-grade speed either, with just 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts.
A lot of this, at least in my mind, is on the Twins. But there becomes a point where a player has to start figuring things out in order to make it work in the Majors.
Call me crazy, but this September call up is going to be the time where we see the Buxton that was picked with the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
And it's a small sample--in fact, it's the smallest possible sample there is--but Buxton hit a second-deck home run in his first at bat back, taking a 1-2 off-speed pitch from Jose Quintana and driving it 388 feet with a 97 MPH exit velocity. He's only made harder contact 20 times in his entire career, according to Brooks Baseball.
Buxton has had two at bats since. His next time at the plate, he flew out to Adam Eaton. His exit velocity? 100 MPH off the bat. Then, in his third at bat, he also flew out to Eaton, and his exit velocity was once again 100 MPH.
Prior to his demotion to Triple-A this year, Buxton had an 89.76 MPH average exit velocity. Already, in just a short sample, he's making harder contact. And if he can continue to just make contact over the course of September (Buxton has a tendency to strike out a lot), he'll be getting a lot more hits.
Quite plainly, Buxton has come back to the Majors and is crushing the ball in three at bats. While, yes, it's just three at bats, it could be a sign of things to come.
Over the next month, in the midst of the pennant chases, award races and everything else baseball has to offer, I'm going to be watching Buxton, who could be on the verge of a breakout.