Every time Buxton's come to the plate this year, my thought process has gone something like this: Ok, here comes Buxton, he's the future, he'll eventually bring us to the World Series. Look at his stance, he looks really good up there. Alright, he just took the first pitch for a strike, nothing wrong with that, Mauer always takes the first pitch, too, now he fouled one back and it's 0-2. From there, I can predict what'll happen. He might take one ball, but it's just delaying the inevitable strike three at a breaking ball in the dirt. A few important things to remember about Buxton before panicking: First, he's only 22 and that's with losing a full year to injuries, not everyone's Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, most guys still need to develop a lot when they're that age. Second, he's still a fantastic fielder and baserunner, regardless of what he does with his other tools, he'll always have that. That said, his lack of progress at the plate is concerning. As I alluded to earlier, not his is he striking out a lot (his 36% is way too much for anyone, much less someone who doesn't hit homers) it's concerning how easily the K's seem to come for pitchers. Not many of his strikeouts come with 3-2 or 2-2 counts but with no or one ball. While behind in the count he's hitting .064/.115/.179. It's concerning and a little terrifying that this is the future of the organization, but we need to just be patient.
After being slowed by injuries in the first half of the season and some controversy of not working hard enough to the extent that there were rumors of him being sent down a couple weeks ago, the Dominican power hitter took off, hitting .343/.425/.800 in August. The 123 strikeouts in 82 games in concerning, but he's only 23 and his power shows enough promise that there's enough reason to think that'll improve.
Like Sano, Rosario has come around recently after struggling earlier. Unlike Sano, he actually was sent down, spending the entire month of June in Rochester. After making it back to Minnesota, he's quietly been on a tear, hitting .325 and hitting five of his seven homers since returning while playing mostly in center field. As a side note, Rosario also wins the unofficial award for coolest guy to the team. Every movement he makes in the field looks completely natural and effortless. That alone is enough reason to like him.
For the past three weeks I've been trying to think of an adequate nickname for Kepler and I haven't been able to come up with one. But that doesn't matter because he's so awesome that he doesn't need one. After a three homer binge against Cleveland started a scorching hot stretch he's moved into the Rookie of the Year discussion with a line of .258/.334/.508 and 15 homers. While watching Kepler, one thing that always stands out to me is how straight and hard he hits the ball. While Sano's homers and long, high, majestic fly balls, Kepler's are typically straighter and get out of the park quickly. 37% of the balls off of his bat have been hit hard, second on the team. He's only 23, so let's hope he can keep it going.