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.
Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.
Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.
Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.
Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.
Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.