Update (5/14/14): Buxton's MRI came back late Tuesday revealing that he has re-aggravated the wrist injury that cost him the first month of the season, reports La Velle E. Neal of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. This isn't surprising news, but what is noteworthy is that the Twins have announced him as being out indefinitely. Neal speculates that he could be out until July.
This certainly pushes Buxton's timetable back. Given that the Twins put Buxton in High-A ball upon returning the first time, he'll probably head back to Fort Myers when he returns this year. He'll need some good fortune to finish the season at Double-A New Britain, and even in the best case scenario, he'll only get a month or two there, meaning he'll need to start there in 2015. The soonest we can hope to see Buxton in the majors at this point would be a late-season call-up next season, almost a full season later than was possible just a few months ago.
Original Post (5/12/14): Just five games into his 2014 season, Byron Buxton is back on the disabled list. The top prospect in baseball re-injured his wrist during a slide on Thursday and has not played since, reports Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. He is scheduled for an MRI on the wrist to determine the extent of the damage.
The Twins prospect originally injured his left wrist in spring training while diving for a ball in the outfield and the injury cost Buxton all of April. Despite originally expecting to start his 2014 season in Double-A, the Twins sent Buxton back to Fort Myers of the Florida State League, where he has success last season, to get his legs back under him. Five games later, Buxton is back on the shelf.
The Twins are saying that this is a minor injury, but wrist injuries have a tendency of lingering and reoccurring. Buxton will have all of the necessary tests done to check for structural damage, but with a wrist injury, that doesn't always tell the entire story. Even with a clean MRI, this could be something that effects Buxton after he returns to the field. The strength in his wrist could still be weakened despite everything being structurally in tact.
From all reports, this injury is minor, but the fact that Buxton will require a second DL stint for the same wrist in the first month-and-a-half of the season is enough to cause concern that this could be something he deals with all season. One of the keys to Buxton's season was the development of his power, the only facet of his game that had yet to take a significant step forward but one that most scouts believe would join the rest of plus tools. Wrist injuries, however, diminish power before anything else, and could effect that part of his game the most, even if he returns with a full bill of health.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Twins have every right to be cautious with Buxton who, at just 20-years-old, does not need to be rushed back to game action. The Twins, however, entered the season with hopes of Buxton possibly making it to the majors this fall, and have already suffered through one injury to a top prospect. With the optimism surrounding their farm system, it wouldn't be shocking to see them try to get Buxton back on the field as soon as possible.
Assuming playing won't risk the structure of the wrist any more than it normally would, there's no reason Buxton can't return to action soon once cleared by the MRI, but we can't expect him to be the Buxton we saw last year right away. Buxton's game is predicated around exceptional bat speed, and that is the first thing to be effected by a wrist injury.
The best bet for the Twins will be to give Buxton all the time he needs to strengthen the wrist and make sure it is 100 percent before he returns to the field. If the injury is as minor as the Twins claim, that could be within a week or two. But wrist injuries have a tendency to linger, and Buxton now has two of them on the same wrist. This could be something he has to work through all season.
Long-term, that doesn't change Buxton's ceiling as the best prospect in baseball. What it does affect, however, is his assent to the big leagues. Before the spring training injury, Buxton was slated to begin the season in Double-A with the potential to move quickly if he played as well as he did last season. Any thoughts of a late-season call-up are now essentially over, with Buxton's return up in the air and his health at that point still a question.