Buxton has fond memories of Team Georgia

Posted 1/7/18

Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, left, a former standout at Appling County High School

in South Georgia, works with some youngsters at a baseball camp in Baxley on January 6, 2018.

Buxton said playing for Team Georgia was one of the highlights of his high school

baseball career. (Special Photo)


Fond Memories playing with Team Georgia

By Tim Morse

The shy, laid-back baseball standout from Appling County High School had never truly been away from his family before. So when Byron Buxton was invited to play for Team Georgia in 2011, he landed in unfamiliar territory.
Buxton was a standout at the Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Oklahoma and the exposure he received helped his baseball career take off.
“There were a ton of Major League Baseball and college scouts out there,” said Buxton, now the starting outfielder for the Minnesota Twins.
“Most definitely, it was a blessing for me. Coming from a small town in South Georgia, I got to go to Oklahoma and represent the state of Georgia. It was a chance to take some pride in my state. It was an honor and a blessing. It also gave me a chance to see a little bit of the world too.”
Buxton later was selected to play in the East Coast Pro Showcase and the Under Armour All-American Game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. He then led Appling County to a state championship as a senior in 2012 before getting selected second overall in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Minnesota Twins.
His path through the minors was short where he earned a wealth of honors which included Midwest League Most Valuable Player, Minor League Player of the Year in 2013 by Baseball America and representing the Twins in the MLB Futures Game.
He missed most of 2014 with an injury and at the start of the 2015 season, Buxton was rated the top prospect by MLB.com. He made his big league-debut on June 14, 2015.
Buxton returned to the minors in 2015 and ’16, but he became the Twins’ every day starter in 2017. He won his first career Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award. He also won a Fielding Bible Award, a Rawlings Gold Glove award and the Platinum Glove Award for the American League.
The Baxley native is planning on a strong season in 2018. But looking back, he said the week playing with Team Georgia in the Sunbelt Classic helped put his professional career into motion. And he still has strong memories from the event.
“I think there were like eight of us, four from Team Georgia and four from I think Canada, who stayed with our host family,” Buxton said. “Building friendships and playing the game together, it was a blessing to me and something I have good memories about to this day.”
A three-sport standout in high school, Buxton excelled in everything. But his speed and athleticism on the baseball diamond helped him punch his ticket to the big leagues. As a freshman in the region championship game, he made a sensational catch in the outfield to rob a hit and also launched a home run.
“We knew then we had something special," Appling coach Jeremy Smith told ESPN.com. "He's the best player I've ever had."
While Buxton garnered many accolades in high school, he ranks playing for Team Georgia as one of his fondest memories.
“For me personally, playing (in the Sunbelt Classic) was like going to some of the showcases,” he said. “There was a tremendous amount of talent.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be invited to play for Team Georgia. It was an honor. For the 13, 14, 15 or ever how many players get selected, it gives you a chance to play for your state. And day in and day out, you are always going to see a good pitcher. It’s not like where you may see only one or two good arms, you will face somebody good everyday.”