Top 30 Reds Prospects: No. 17

Buckley Looks to Get Back on Track at Bakersfield

After an impressive debut at Billings the Reds had high expectations from Sean Buckley at Dayton in 2012. He started off poorly with an appendicitis that took him out of action in the spring. He salvaged his season with a strong finish and appears ready to get back on track at Bakersfield this year.

The Reds definitely had an inside track on Sean Buckley because his father Chris is their director of scouting. Before the 2011 draft those two decided that it would be better for Sean to pursue his baseball career in another organization. By the time the sixth round arrived it was other Reds scouts that were tired of passing on him and convinced the team to pull the trigger. Now he rates as possibly the top prospect for raw power in the Cincinnati system.

After the draft he debuted as a 21 year-old at Billings and impressed during the shortened Pioneer League season with a slash line of .289 AVG/.372 OB/.551 SLG/14 HR/41 RBI in 59 games. That performance lifted him up in the prospect rankings before he had some growing pains at Dayton. He again hit fourteen homers but it took him nearly twice as many AB to get them against Midwest League pitching. His average (.244) wasn't anything to write home about, but it improved late in the season.

Buckley's biggest challenge thus far has been staying healthy. That's not as alarming as it sounds because some of his problems were not baseball related and aren't expected to return. His slow start last year came after missing spring training from appendicitis. While in college he missed some time from an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and a broken bone in his hand.

When he is playing his biggest challenge is contact because he's struck out in around 30% of his plate appearances. He also struggled defensively at the hot corner while at Billings. Last season the Reds moved him to the other infield corner where he did a nice job with the leather. Of course the Reds have committed to other long-term plans at first base at the MLB level, but Buckley is athletic with a strong arm so the outfield could be an option if he runs into a road block.

Buckley is now 23 years old and will likely start at Bakersfield this season. His average at Dayton wasn't horrible and over the final couple of weeks he looked like he's ready for a promotion. He went through a slump in August and sat out a couple of days before coming back to hit .309 with 4 HR/12 RBI over his final fourteen games. The Reds are hoping that finish is a harbinger for some big numbers when he moves to the hitter-friendly California League in 2013.

2012 was a bit disappointing for the Floridian and he's faced some challenges over his young career since leaving high school. Still, he finds himself in a good position to convert them into nothing more than bumps in the road as he puts them in his rear view mirror. Great American Ball Park has a reputation as a hitter-friendly venue and someday Sean Buckley may be putting his name on a fair share of the balls that fly over its wall.

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The Reds and an inside track on prospect Sean Buckley because his father is their scouting director.…

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