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For all Byron Buxton endured last season, three little words said with emphasis have become sweet music to the Minnesota Twins.

“I feel strong,” Buxton said.

Buxton entered the 2015 season the top prospect in professional baseball for the second year in a row despite playing just 31 games in 2014. It’s a testament to the talent level the center fielder continues to display through injuries and bad luck. It’s also a reminder that the industry is just as high on Buxton as it was during a memorable 2013 season that included him mashing despite being four years younger than the average Florida State League age.

Buxton went from a bone bruise in the left shoulder during 2013 Arizona Fall League play to a left wrist sprain on a diving catch attempt in March 2014 that kept him out until May. He re-aggravated the wrist not even a full week after his season debut with Class A-Advanced Fort Myers and sat for another two months.

Buxton returned in July and was hit by a pitch in his right wrist later that month, causing him to sit a week. After playing 17 games, he was rewarded with his first assignment to Double-A New Britain, which became the site of what could have been a career-altering moment.

In just his first game with the RockCats on August 13, Buxton collided with teammate Mike Kvasnicka on a diving catch attempt and lay motionless for 10 minutes. He was transported to the hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion, abruptly ending his marred season.

To top it off, the Twins sent Buxton to the Arizona Fall League again in hopes of getting some at-bats before the year ended. After showing flashes of his on-field brilliance over 61 plate appearances, he dislocated the middle finger on his left hand and suffered a small fracture, again while diving for a ball.

“It has been that type of year,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan told MLB.com at the time.

Buxton saw his slugging percentage drop 125 points from 2013 to 2014 while battling the wrist injuries. This past offseason should have been about rebuilding strength, but the late-season finger injury hampered that. Buxton is now catching up strength-wise, and it’s showing in his first full season at Double-A.

After a recent hot stretch with Chattanooga, Buxton’s slugging percentage was .527, powered by three doubles, five triples, and three home runs in 102 plate appearances. Over a 10-game span between April 25 and May 4, he went 17-for-41 with two doubles, four triples, and two homers, adding six walks and five stolen bases for good measure.

“It comes with working out over the season and working out this spring training. And just keeping that routine I have and going out every day and giving it my best,” Buxton said.

The 21-year-old said he’s making adjustments to facing Double-A pitching while also making the adjustment of a new location after Chattanooga became the Twins’ affiliate this past offseason. The Georgia native didn’t get off to a preferable start by recording nine hits in his first 12 games, but extra work combined with naturally gifted talent is starting to show.

Buxton’s work ethic has followed him since his high school days in rural Baxley, Georgia. During a recent weekend series, he could be seen working with Chattanooga’s coaches alongside teammates Miguel Sano and Adam Brett Walker prior to team batting practice. He’s been arriving to the ballpark early to put in extra work through the season’s first month.

“You just have to adapt and adjust to it,” Buxton said. “You’re going to struggle in this game, and you’re going to fail. You just have to battle your way out of it and keep working hard every day.”

Buxton’s 2014 report continues to apply so far this year. He clocked an effortless 4.0 to first base during a recent game for 80 speed. He shows off a plus arm and effortless range with natural feel for center that gives him double-plus defense. One could stop there and have a solid major-league prospect, but Buxton’s game is just beginning at that point.

The hit tool profiles as plus potential. He generates plus bat speed from strong, quick hands, and the fact that he said he feels strong after the wrist injuries—and paused for emphasis while saying it—only helps in this regard. The hands drop a touch and produce a pretty level bat plane that limits his lift and extension, so he’s more likely to hit hard line drives around the park and run into home runs rather than actually gear himself for a lot of pull-side homers. This doesn’t take away from his in-game power, which has plus potential, but don’t mistake the 60 power for tons of future home runs. He’ll definitely have more than his share of long balls over the years, though. Combine that with elite speed, the ability to make consistently hard contact, and plus-plus defense up the middle and it results in a monster prospect.

It’s worth noting Buxton’s plate discipline is being tested early by advanced pitching. His strikeout percentage is currently in line with his past averages after decreasing from his rough start, showing his ability to adjust and make more contact. A recent look showed Buxton will still chase some against advanced secondaries, and he’s prone to guess at times, but pitch recognition and discipline can come in cycles sometimes, and Buxton is showing an ability to adjust.

“You don’t just get a fastball like you did in the lower levels,” he said. “You have to work for your at-bats. You have to have quality at-bats. You have to go up there and focus, have to be prepared pitch by pitch and grind it out.”

The same look also showed Buxton’s tendency to commit too early, which hinders his ability to adjust to spin. He can leak and lunge, causing him to miss the fat of the barrel on hittable pitches. He said that’s the main focus of his current early work in the cage.

“I’m just trying to stay behind the ball,” he said. “I’m trying to stop myself from leaking a little bit. A few pitches I could have driven somewhere in the gap and I ended up popping up or fouling off somewhere, when normally I put a good swing on the ball. I’m just trying to get back to that point, and I’m working on some stuff with that.”

Through all Buxton has experienced in his short pro career, two things have remained the same: His five-tool ability and the work ethic. He only played 31 games in 2014, but he’s already catching back up while making perhaps the toughest jump in the minors at 21. It’s a reminder not to sleep on elite potential with a realistic shot at a Role 7 player.

“I feel good,” he said. “I’m still adjusting to some things here, but so far, so good.”

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