Top prospect OF Byron Buxton set to join Twins on Sunday
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -
With a depleted outfield and a winless week so far to drop them out of the AL Central lead, the Minnesota Twins are ready to add the player considered by many the top prospect in the minors. Byron Buxton is being promoted from Double-A to make his major league debut Sunday for the Twins, who have lost five games in a row after an 11-7 loss to the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
"Everyone hopes that he'll come in and make it tough to think about sending him back," manager Paul Molitor said. "We have a lot of confidence. ... He's an exciting player, but he's still learning how to hit."
The Twins announced Saturday their plan to select his contract from Chattanooga. The 21-year-old Buxton will play center field in the finale of the three-game series in Texas.
Twins outfielder Torii Hunter is serving a two-game suspension for his uniform-tossing tirade at the umpire and Aaron Hicks was scratched for his spot in center Saturday because of an elbow problem.
"Today we had one guy on the bench, except for Hicks potentially pinch running, and it would be the same (Sunday). It's not good," Molitor said. "It was the right time to try to get us a center fielder."
The Twins will make a corresponding move before Sunday's game to add Buxton, the second overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft. He was chosen right behind shortstop Carlos Correa, who made his major league debut for Houston on Monday.
In 59 games for Chattanooga this season, Buxton hit .283 with 12 triples, and scored a Southern League-high 44 runs. He also had 37 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and six home runs.
Buxton kept up his rapid ascent to the majors in the last year despite a variety of injuries, having sustained a concussion, a wrist problem and a dislocated finger.
Buxton played Friday night at Birmingham and was out of the lineup Saturday. He went 2 for 4 in that last game in Double-A and, showing an aggressive running style, was thrown out on the bases for the second straight day.
Drafted from high school in Georgia, Buxton has been on a fast track to the big leagues. With two-tone hair, he already has star power - on Friday night, he tapped both the both Barons catcher and plate umpire on the shin guards when he walked into the batter's box to lead off the game, then easily beat a chopper to shortstop.
Minnesota led 3-1 Saturday after Eddie Rosario had a two-run double off the base of the left-field wall in the third and then scored on Joe Mauer's two-bagger.
But Colby Lewis (6-3) then struck out the next three batters and retired the last 15 he faced against the only AL team he had never beaten as a Ranger. He didn't return after a one-hour, 19-minute rain delay in the middle of the seventh.
Texas tied the game at 3 on Mitch Moreland's RBI double in the third. An inning later, immediately after the Twins couldn't convert a fourth consecutive inning-ending double play, Moreland and Joey Gallo hit back-to-back impressive home runs as part of a six-run outburst.
Moreland's three-run shot pulled an estimated 409 feet down the right-field line chased Mike Pelfrey (5-3). Gallo greeted reliever J.R. Graham with a 461-foot drive into the upper deck in right.
Pelfrey allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings, pushing his season ERA from 2.28 to 3.18. He had allowed only three runs over 28 innings his previous four starts.
"I was just terrible," Pelfrey said. "It was just one of those days that nothing's working. I got my tail kicked."
LOT OF EXTRA BASES
Both teams had seven extra-base hits, the first MLB game this season that happened. All of Minnesota's were doubles, the first time with that many since July 26, 2010. The Twins had four doubles in a four-run ninth inning.
Twins: Hicks was removed from the starting lineup after Molitor said the center fielder "had some trouble with his right elbow" when hitting in the batting cage. Molitor said he couldn't swing the bat or throw.
Rangers: LHP Martin Perez (Tommy John surgery) has been pulled from his rehab assignment after tweaking his left groin in his first start Wednesday for Double-A Frisco. The Rangers called the move precautionary.
Twins: Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.81) makes his Twins-high 13th start after losing his last two.
Rangers: Nick Martinez (5-2, 2.65) has allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his 12 starts.
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