Just over 13 months ago, 84% of you chose Byron Buxton over Miguel Sano for the top prospect in the Minnesota farm system. Both players had very good years, but it was just impossible to ignore the fact that Buxton made it look like he was playing a video game with the difficult level set to 'Rookie.'
Will it be a closer vote this year? I'm not sure. Neither player took a step forward in 2014. Let's see how it plays out in the ballot box.
In the interest of full disclosure: just like last year, this is a vote for first and second place on our prospect list. The loser of this vote will NOT go onto Round 2. He'll just get second place. Because let's be honest: these two players, even with the off year, are still in a stratosphere of their own.
Before we get started, here are the players who graduated the prospect list from 2014: Josmil Pinto (6), Michael Tonkin (15), Danny Santana (17), Kennys Vargas (18). Trevor May was 4.1 innings shy of losing his rookie status, so he remains on the prospect list for this season.
Byron Buxton, CF
2015 Age: 21
2014 High Level: Double-A
|2013||19||A - A+||125||574||163||19||18||12||55||19||76||105||.334||.424||.520||.944|
|2014||20||A+ - AA||31||137||29||4||2||4||6||2||10||36||.234||.307||.395||.702|
He was the consensus number one prospect in the game coming into 2014, taking home the top spot on lists for Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Major League Baseball. Anyone who didn't have this guy at the top of their list did so only in an effort to be "different," and was only lying to themselves and to Jesus.
2014 wasn't the season Buxton wanted to have. He managed 30 games for Fort Myers, and injury-riddled as his time was there the Twins promoted him in spite of a .240/.313/.405 showing. In his first game at Double-A, he dove for a ball in the right-center field gap, knocked himself out, and was done for the season. Even in the Arizona Fall League this year he couldn't stay healthy. Between his wrist and his head it was a lost season for Buxton. Everyone is ready to flip the calendar to 2015.
Miguel Sano, 3B
2015 Age: 22
2014 High Level: N/A
|2013||20||A+ - AA||123||519||123||30||5||35||65||142||.280||.382||.610||.992|
Sano had issues with his arm in spring training and eventually went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Position players don't take as long as pitchers to recover from the operation, and at one point there was even speculation that he could come back and get some reps as New Britain's designated hitter down the stretch, but that plan was soon scrapped in favor of patience and a longer rehab process. Sano was shut down for the whole of the season, and will start fresh in spring training.
He was considered one of the game's top prospects heading into 2014. Baseball America had him ranked sixth; Baseball Prospectus 14th; Major League Baseball fourth. Concerns remain about his long term potential at third base, but he's one of the few prospects with 80 power. Conservative efforts give his power a 70 on the 20-80 scale. While he won't be ready for Opening Day, if he's healthy and productive we could see Sano after the All-Star break.