Kernels' Buxton doing a Trout impersonation early

Highly touted outfielder off to blazing start in Cedar Rapids

Published: April 7 2013 | 9:03 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 1:44 pm in
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CEDAR RAPIDS A lot of locals talked about him being the next Mike Trout. But through four games, Byron Buxton actually has been better than Mike Trout was with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

That is an incredible statement.

Buxton went 4 for 5 in C.R.s 9-1 win Sunday afternoon over Beloit at Veterans Memorial Stadium. He is 9 for his first 16 with the Kernels, including a double, triple, long home run and two stolen bases in two attempts.

He came up a homer shy of the cycle Sunday, popping to second in the fourth inning for his only out. One pitch prior, he had turned on a ball that had more than enough home-run distance to left but hooked foul.

Been pretty good, Buxton said of his start. Im seeing the ball well, hitting it hard. Im just trying to improve every day. Im working on getting a hit a day, and more hits will come after that.

The 19-year-old Georgia outfielder was the second selection of last years Major League Baseball draft, the highest draft pick ever to play in Cedar Rapids, tied with former big-league shortstop Kurt Stillwell. He played in Rookie ball last summer after signing with the Minnesota Twins (for a bonus of $6 million) with decent stats but nothing that suggested hed adjust to low-Class A and cold weather as well as he has so far.

Youve seen him flash all five tools: hitting, hitting for power, speed, defense and throwing arm.

Ive joked with (hitting coach) Tommy Watkins about him, said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. Hes very excited about Byron, as we all are. Youve got to be blind not to see the mans ability. He can do a lot of things. You always try to temper your excitement. Lets see what happens here, lets see when the lights come on opening day. Im sure its the first time hes talked to you (reporters) after a game. So thats been an adjustment for him, too, which is good. Thats part of development.

But hes exciting out there to watch run around. He covers a lot of ground.

Buck, as hes known was asked if his first four games have surprised him. Keep in mind, this is not an outspoken young man, by any means.

He is known as a good teammate.

Im just going out and playing my game. Thats about it, he said. Ive got great teammates behind me. They drive me in when I get on base. Were just trying to do the best that we can. We have good chemistry here.

Its ludicrous to think Buxton will keep up this pace. There will be slumps because everyone has them.

Trout, as an 18-year-old, hit .362 with 45 stolen bases in 81 games for the Kernels in 2010 before being promoted to high-A. Anything remotely close to that should make Twins fans ecstatic.

I think hes got the mentality with (the ability) that he understands, he knows hes pretty good, Mauer said. He wont tell you that because hes a very quiet, humble individual. But hes got the confidence that you see the good ones have. Weve got 136 more of these, but these first four games, I dont think you could make a better first impression.

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