On Tuesday afternoon the Twins were in St. Louis for the opening salvo of their home and away series versus the Cardinals. The game hit a rain delay early, and General Manager Terry Ryan jumped on the radio with Kris Atteberry to discuss Byron Buxton as well as a few other prospect-related topics.
It was refreshing to see Minnesota's front office be pragmatic about Buxton's promotion. In some sense Ryan is correct - it's very easy to judge, especially well after a decision is made when all of the information is then available. As fans we certainly feel that there have been times where the Twins have dragged their feet, but as a community I do think that when it comes to immeasurables we're more focused on the process than on the results with things of this nature. In the instance of Buxton it seems like a promotion that's only slightly premature, and that's only the case because of his injuries throughout 2014 and because of how the organization has managed our expectations.
Be sure to listen to the clip of Ryan on Buxton listed above, but here are a couple of other takeaways from the interview that aren't available on the Soundcloud page.
- The Twins called up Buxton with the intent of not sending him down, but ultimately that's almost always up to the player. If Buxton plays well, it doesn't sound like he'll get sent back down when decisions about who gets outfield roster spots start to get tricky.
- Ryan made a salient point of what happens to players once they reach the Major Leagues: they turn from shiny objects that are full of ceiling, potential, and upside into real players with highs and lows and things to work on.
- There's every faith in Buxton that he has the demeanor necessary to deal with not just playing a professional spot but for being in the spotlight. That's something teams learn much earlier in the process now than they did 30 or 20 or even 15 years ago. The availability of information means players are more approachable now, certainly in the minor leagues, and the public is widely aware of prospects before they get to the Major Leagues - players sign autographs, read criticisms, etc. There was significantly less of this before the Internet, obviously.
- Ryan is impressed by Buxton's tools, and mentioned the speed. He sounded eager to see how the other tools translate to a big league field and to see how Buxton adjusts. There was certainly a level of trying to manage expectations from Ryan in regards to his new center fielder.
- Ryan seems to be happy with progress being made by Adam Brett Walker, in spite of the strikeout totals.
- Rob Antony went to watch Alex Meyer pitch this week, as Ryan hasn't seen Meyer pitch out of the bullpen. Ryan reiterated that this move isn't permanent and that they still want Meyer to start, but right now it sounds like they're more concerned with helping him re-establish some confidence. If that means letting him pitch in the bullpen as he's having success, he'll continue to do so for the time being.
- When asked about the change in organizational philosophy towards strikeout pitchers, Ryan brought up how close a lot of those arms were to the bullpen. He named Zack Jones and J.T. Chargois specifically, but also mentioned the difficult years being experienced by Jake Reed and Nick Burdi.