Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was slated to begin this season at Double-A and perhaps be knocking on the door to the majors right now, but instead the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball missed the first two-plus months of the year with a spring training wrist injury.
When he finally returned from the disabled list the Twins decided to send Buxton back to high Single-A, where he dominated at the end of last season by hitting .326 as a teenager. But this time around he got off to a slow start there, caught fire for a couple weeks, and then struggled again lately.
Overall he hit .240 with a .718 OPS and 33 strikeouts in 30 games, but the Twins have decided Buxton is ready for Double-A. He’s been promoted to the Eastern League four months before his 21st birthday and will finish the season playing for a New Britain team on which the average player is 25.5 years old.
Buxton is still viewed as the best prospect in baseball by most prominent sources and remains on track for stardom, but the wrist injury cost him a bunch of development time and probably erased whatever chance he had of debuting for the Twins this season as a 20-year-old.
Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.
It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.
Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.