- Buxton is from Baxley, Georgia, a Deep South town, population 4,509. Baxley is bisected by U.S. 341 about 100 miles southwest of Savannah, Georgia, a 30-minute drive from the middle of nowhere. The nearest major airport is two hours south—in Jacksonville, Fla. The nearest lodging is 15 miles away.
Byron began playing when he was 6 years old and played multiple sports for several years. He gave up basketball as a high school sophomore but continued playing football as a quarterback and wide receiver through his senior season. Still, he always knew his future was in baseball.
“I have a lot more fun in baseball,” Buxton says. “I have a passion for it.”
Appling County's baseball field features an open layout with bleachers, room for fans to set their lawn chairs right up against a stone wall backstop, and an expansive concession area complete with a large grill. It could easily be mistaken for a game at a large suburban high school, but the hospitality and fan atmosphere is that of smaller communities—intimate friendliness among the spectators and a strong passion for their team and players.
Buxton grew up three hours southeast of Atlanta in a house off a dirt road and he remains a country boy. His idea of a well-spent Saturday is cutting grass while listening to country music on his headphones, and he tends to put everything into simple terms.
"Just got to hope for the best and work as hard as you can," Byron says.
- Buxton's father, father, Felton, is a truck driver, and his mother, Carrie, runs her own day care. Felton Jr., Byron’s older brother, is an engineer in the Navy. They have a younger sister, Keva, who was born in 2004.
Byron is quiet and speaks slowly as he chooses his words carefully—almost the opposite of the way he plays. He has a real feel for the game.
He has a high-waisted, projectable body with plenty of quick-twitch athleticism.
In 2012, Buxton graduated from Appling County High School in Georgia, after hitting .513 with 36 stolen bases. He was also quarterback, cornerback, and punter on the football team. He had a scholarship to play wide receiver at the University of Georgia.
And then, the Twins chose Byron as the second player taken overall in the draft, with their first round pick.
And they signed Buxton, via scout Jack Powell, on June 13, 2012 for a $6 million bonus.
Powell, the Twins scout who inked Byron, gave him an 80—the highest grade on the 20-80 scale—on every skill except power. He has given only one other player such high marks in his 37 years of evaluating player: Josh Hamilton.
- After the 2012 season, Baseball America rated Buxton as the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League.
- In 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Buxton as the 2nd-best prospect in the Twins organization. They moved him to #1 in the winter before 2014 spring camps opened; and he stayed #1 through the spring of 2016.
It's highly unlikely anyone will hear Buxton, known to all as "Bucks," complain about the work needed to succeed at the highest level. Some of that is because he's a quiet young man. Most of it is because Buxton's role model for work ethic has been his father, a big-rig driver who got up in the middle of the night so he could be done with work in time to take his kids to their after-school activities.
"My dad gets up at 1," Buxton said. "My alarm goes off and I think, 'My dad gets up at 1, so I shouldn't complain.' That keeps me motivated to do better."
- March 27, 2013: Buxton coincidentally made his debut in a Twins uniform in an exhibition game late in Spring Training. It was against the player he's most compared to in Pirates star Andrew McCutchen. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said the two players have a similar skill set and so it made sense for Buxton to see McCutchen play in person.
"One of the things we've talked about with him is that he reminds a lot of us of McCutchen,' Ryan said. "So I thought that was ironic. So he'll get a chance to watch McCutchen. It's not like he can't learn from some of our guys like [Aaron] Hicks, but this is an opportunity for him to get some Major League time and at-bats. There is no downside."
Byron has impressed the Twins with his makeup more than anything—just the way he goes about his business, with his maturity on the field and off the field. He's a man on a mission.
He receives coaching info and applies it quickly. He impresses you with his demeanor as much as with his outstanding tools, all of which rate at least a 60 (power) with the rest being 70 or 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. (2013 thru 2016)
Buxton was named the 2013 Most Valuable Player and Prospect of the Year by the Midwest League.
Byron also was named the 2013 Sherry Robertson Award winner as the Twins Minor League Player of the Year.
And, he was named Baseball America's 2013 Minor League Player of the Year.
October 2013: Minor League Baseball and Topps Company announced that Minnesota Twins top prospect and member of the 2013 Fort Myers Miracle, Byron Buxton, was the winner of the 54th annual J.G. Taylor Spinks Award as Topps/Minor League Player of the Year.
Buxton, age 19 at the time, joined Mike Trout (2010), Delmon Young (2005) and Andruw Jones (1996) as the only teenagers to who have won the award.
Quiet and still somewhat shy, Buxton is unfailingly polite and has a deep-seated work ethic that is second to none. Byron shows initiative and works hard to improve his overall game.
December 6, 2013: Brix Scott Buxton was born to Lindsey Tillery, Byron's girlfriend of 18 months. Lindsey, a former softball star at Appling County High School, was three years ahead of Buxton at the same school.
"She was pretty popular," he recalled.
The two didn't begin dating until some mutual friends stopped by Buxton's home and made the introduction. A nursing student at Valdosta State University, Lindsey is the one who keeps Buxton focused.
- As a grade schooler, Buxton would rise early and light out on the trails surrounding his family’s small house in tiny Graham, Georgia, imitating another country runner—Forrest Gump, the namesake of his favorite movie.
"He’s the best athlete I ever coached,” said Appling County High athletic director and football coach J.T. Pollock. “He made one all-state team as a receiver, made another as a defensive back, and punted for us. There wasn’t anything on the field he couldn’t do. In baseball, I once saw him score from second on a sacrifice fly.
"His junior year, he was playing quarterback for us and we walked out on the field for practice. He was standing on the goal line and somebody said, ‘Hey, Bux, see how far you can throw it.’ He said, ‘OK,’ took a step and cut loose. It went 82 yards. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself.
“Just one day, I want to wake up and be Byron Buxton. I’d hit a baseball 450 feet, throw a fastball 97 miles per hour, go to the gym and dunk any way I wanted to dunk, then go over to the football field and make some great catches, punt the ball 50 or 60 yards, throw it 80 yards, and just see how all of that felt.”
When Byron Buxton is on the field, he's the most dynamic player in the Minor Leagues, the top prospect in all of baseball in 2014. He proved that in 2013, surpassing even the highest expectations placed upon the second overall pick in the 2012 draft.
But 2014 brought a new set of challenges for Buxton. He has been injured, re-injured, and set back for four months. Buxton felt lost at the plate, a symptom of the rust he'd accumulated on the disabled list.
"He's the most level-headed kid I've ever been around, and he's the most talented person I've ever been around. He's handling it as good as he possibly can," Fort Myers Miracle manager Doug Mientkiewicz said. "We do everything we can to make him feel as protected as we can, but at the same time, when you're the No. 1 prospect in baseball, there's only so much you can do to keep him away from everything."
Mientkiewicz is mindful of making sure Buxton feels like one of the guys, no easy task given his elite prospect status and the exaggerated media/fan attention that comes with it. (Berry - mlb.com - 7/28/14)
June 2012: The Twins chose Buxton in the first round, out of Appling County High School in Georgia.
In 2014, Byron spent more time wielding a fishing pole than a baseball bat, when a slew of hard-luck injuries turned into a lost season.
After mornings in rehab at Minnesota's minor league complex in Fort Myers, Florida, he would get into his red pickup, drive a few miles, park along the side of a road, and find a suitable spot next to an irrigation ditch where he'd pursue catfish until the sun set.
Often Buxton's fishing partner was fellow Twins prospect Miguel Sano, a third baseman whose season was cut short with an elbow injury and was also looking for way to while away the hours.
"One day Miguel showed up with four buckets, and I was like, 'What is all that for?" recalled Buxton. "And Miguel went out and caught 35 fish! Man, I'll never forget that day. Of course," Byron added, "we'd have had a lot more fun if we were healthy and at the ballpark.
June 14, 2015: The wait is over. Buxton had his contract purchased by the Twins from Double-A Chattanooga before the game against the Rangers. Buxton who put on uni No. 25, said he found out during a team meeting held by Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz.
"Doug brought everybody in the clubhouse and talked to us a little bit and told me I was coming up, and everyone got wild a little bit and excited," Buxton said. "It was an unbelievable moment. It was definitely unexpected. It caught me by surprise and shock. When I heard my name, just a lot of joy and happiness went through me. I'm just blessed to get the opportunity to get called up to The Show."
Buxton said his fiancée, Lindsey, his son, Brix, and his parents will be in attendance at the game at Globe Life Park. Buxton added that he's more excited than anxious to make his Major League debut. (R. Bollinger - MLb.com - June 13, 2015)
Byron didn't even arrive in the Twins' clubhouse until less than four hours before first pitch after his recall from Triple-A Rochester. His car got a flat tire on his way to the airport, and he had to walk three miles to get it serviced.
The Twins are thankful that Buxton got back to Minneapolis in time, because he swatted a three-run homer that capped a five-run rally in the second inning, putting Minnesota ahead for good, as they topped the White Sox, 8-5, at Target Field, finally snapping a season-high 13-game losing streak. (Merkin - MLB.com - 9/2/16)