From now through Monday, we'll profile six players the Orioles might target with the No. 4 overall pick in Monday night's amateur draft. Today: Byron Buxton
Name: Byron Buxton
Height/Weight: 6-feet-2, 175 pounds
Hometown: Baxley, Georgia
School/Class: Appling County HS/senior
Skinny: Arguably the best all-around athlete in the draft with the highest upside of any position player. … A natural center fielder that should stay there throughout his career. … Has plus-speed and baserunning instincts, swiping 36 bases in his first 35 games in 2012. … Batted over .500 as a senior with gap power. … Had three homers this year, but as he fills out could be a 15-homer-plus hitter. … Makes good contact; rarely struck out in high school. … Can throw a low 90s fastball and fanned roughly two batters per inning this year. … Was also star quarterback/wide receiver on high school team. … Hit national showcases tours last summer, rising to prominence. … From small Georgia town, so level of competition is a concern. … Draws comparisons to B.J. and Justin Upton and former Oriole Eric Davis. … Has committed to the University of Georgia.
Why the Orioles will take him: With Adam Jones signed through 2018, the Orioles won’t have to rush Buxton’s development. Yet for several springs they could pair him with Jones, who within the last year has really taken to the role of mentor. The organization is thin in both athletic players – Xavier Avery and Trent Mummey as notable exceptions – and top-shelf outfielders.
Why the Orioles won’t take him: He won’t get to the fourth spot. It’s possible he could go first overall to the Houston Astros. The Minnesota Twins need offense, though they have spent several high picks recently on outfielders. It’d be a shock if the pitching-rich Seattle Mariners’ organization passed on such an offensive talent at No. 3.
Connolly’s take: Buxton would be nice, but there’s not a realistic shot of him falling unless the top of the draft shifts. If it does, the Orioles likely wouldn’t hesitate.