Sounding more and more like Hunter...
The only thing most people are arguing is, whether or not it makes sense to give away a year of service time for a couple of extra weeks with the big club, in a season that is going nowhere fast. Why is this so crazy?
I'd prefer to wait, not only because of service time but because Hicks has been a slow starter in the past. I'm not convinced this team wouldn't panic if he started with a low BA even if he had a strong OBP. I have a feeling they don't put as much weight in the latter of the two stats.
I may be in the minority but I really hope Benson wins the job out of ST. It would create another trade chip at some point if he can succeed and since this seems to be his last real chance....
Do what's right for Hicks and his development into a cornerstone of the franchise. Whatever that is, doesn't matter about service time, do it. I trust the Twins on assessing their prospect readiness, it's one of their strongest qualities as an organization.
In AAA at 22 Hunter posted an .891 OPS in around 100 AB. Hunters's first two seasons were not impressive in the majors. His third season he crushed the ball and but still posted an OPS below .800 thanks to poor plate discipline and had an OPS + of 80. It's hard to say what would have happened with more seasoning, but the Twins certainly didn't get much out of his first three seasons.
Also, it's a minor point but one of Hick's season's above .800 was 45 games in the rookie league.
Look I'm not saying keep him down for the whole season, and if they start him I certainly hope he does well but some PAs in AAA wouldn't hurt, for multiple reasons.
The Twins showed they really didn't know what they were doing from opening day last year. Anyone remember, the debate about Willingham in RF or LF and Doumit's adventures in outfielding, Parmelee never getting one single inning rep in the OF at AAA?
The service time issue really only matters if Hicks becomes a mainstay and the Twins don't sign him to a major league contract by his last year of service.
If he flops, it doesn't matter that you used up a year of service time. If he lights it up, you can sign him to a contract and you wouldn't have to worry about service time.
Or he lights it up and takes his services elsewhere.....a year earlier than he would have otherwise.
One other point of reference in comparison of Hicks to Hunter.
Hunter had 2540 plate appearances in the minors and struck out 446 times. (He walked only 178)
Hicks has 2110 plate appearances and has struck out 425 times. (Walked 313).
If Hicks starts the season in the majors, I think he could be very prone to strikeouts. He does have a lot more patience but it would be interesting to see how major league pitching affects his numbers. I think you could see him strike out a ton (maybe 150 times or more) and not walk nearly as much facing the superior pitching of the majors. I still think that his patience will be an asset long term and hope it translates but those K levels should be a concern and will be the major challenge of his transition.
Hicks has done better in the minors that Hunter...and he's a very similar player to Hunter overall. Some of the same weakness, a lot of the same strengths...and we're not going anywhere this season or next. I have no issues waiting to bring him up past the date where we get an extra yar of control, but I don't buy the whole seasoning reason, or whatever. He's had enough time.
Yes, Hicks is more prone to Ks than Hunter was in the minors, but he also gets on base at a much better clip...which is kind of what we need.