Byron Buxton’s tumultuous and injury riddled season has come to a close. After the top center field prospect sustained a concussion on a brutal outfield collision last week, Twins general manager Terry Ryan told reporters yesterday that he does not expect Buxton to play again this season.
The 20 year old, considered by Baseball America and MLB.com to be the game’s number one prospect, is currently at the team’s facilities in Fort Myers, Florida, where he is recovering under the watch of the team’s best trainers.
Although the collision appeared to be quite serious at the time and afterwards, Buxton lay unconscious for several minutes, he does not appear to have any of the serious symptoms of a concussion, only headaches and neck stiffness. Still, with only two weeks left in the minor league season, Buxton would need a rather expedient, perhaps rushed, recovery to play another game.
As it is, he only appeared in 31 games this year, 30 of which were with high-A Fort Myers. After tearing apart low and high-A in 2013, Buxton was expected by some to start the year in Double-A New Britain, but he injured his wrist diving to make a catch in spring training. He returned in May, only to to re-injure it, keeping him out of games through early July.
Overall, he hit .240/.313/.405 with four home runs in 134 plate appearances for Fort Myers. The collision occurred during his Double-A debut, but he went 0-3 before leaving the game.
Though he may not play in another minor league game this season, Ryan indicated that Buxton could return for the Arizona Fall League.
“Only if he’s ready,” Ryan told ESPN.com “I don’t want to get premature on how he’ll recover and feel two weeks from now. First things first, we need to go through the Major League protocol for concussion symptoms. But he’s in Fort Myers, which is convenient, so we can ramp him up there. The fall league starts Oct. 7, so it makes some sense that might be a good progression.”
It’s been a rough year for Minnesota’s top prospects. They entered the season as the one of just two teams – along with the Cubs – to have two of the top 10 prospects in baseball, per Baseball America. But third baseman Miguel Sano, who was ranked 6th, underwent Tommy John surgery in February and has missed the entire season, and now Buxton’s year has ended before it ever really got off the ground.