MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For years now, the Twins have been pinning a big portion of their hopes on the potential of Byron Buxton. This year, it seems we’re seeing that potential start to flourish as the former No. 2 overall pick looks to be taking the next step.

We’ve gotten a bit spoiled here in Minnesota. Watching the best defensive centerfielder in baseball make unbelievable catches has become almost routine.

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Buxton has always been outstanding defensively. There’s nobody you’d rather have in centerfield. And he’s always had unbelievable speed – the fastest man in baseball.

The trouble in years past has always been getting on base to use that great speed. He’s a career .232 hitter, including just a .156 mark last year. But this year is the best Buxton has been at the plate yet. He’s starting to deliver the kind of results for which Twins fans have long hoped.

“I think he’s been seeing the ball well, I think he’s swinging the bat with some confidence. He swung the bat great in spring training, too, so this is just kind of follow-through of what we’ve seen all year,” said Rocco Baldelli, manager of the Twins. “He looked good this offseason when I saw him swinging the bat. He’s looked good and strong.”

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So, what is the difference?

“Just being myself,” Buxton said. “That’s what we harp on and what we preach on. Just be yourself, don’t try to overdo it, and just let everything happen.”

Statistically speaking, the difference has been that he’s swung at more strikes and laid off more balls.

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“Just keep doing what I’m doing. Stay aggressive, stay disciplined at the plate – that’s something I’m still working on as well, and try to stay consistent,” Buxton said. “That’s a big thing that I’ve been harping on, and the hitting coaches as well, is me wanting to be more consistent.”