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Article: Put Him in Coach? Aaron Hicks is Ready for Center Field

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:15 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...or-Center-Field

#2 JB_Iowa

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:43 PM

Great Article, Parker. I have a bit of a hard time seeing how he has a "lot less pressure on him" this year. I guess I can see less pressure from hitting down in the order but I'd appreciate a better understanding of why the pressure is so much less.

#3 Parker Hageman

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:49 PM

I guess I can see less pressure from hitting down in the order but I'd appreciate a better understanding of why the pressure is so much less.


I think the idea from the Twins and Hicks' perspective is that he has seen what the highest level of baseball is about and he has had the opportunity to work on the things that should prepare him to play at that level. That's the "slow the game down" mentality. There may certainly still be the pressure to live up to expectations -- that never really goes away until you do.

#4 Physics Guy

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:52 PM

I would say "less pressure" might come from the fact that he has a better idea of what to expect this year.

Edit - Oops, forgot to refresh. Parker said what I was thinking, although more eloquently.

#5 Physics Guy

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:56 PM

I am greatly hopeful that Hicks can show some of his promise as a former top prospect this year. Improvements from Hicks, Arcia and Plouffe are reasons I'm not as down on the Twins chances on offense as many others are. I also think Dozier figured things out the last half of 2013. I think he will show improvement from his 2013 numbers.

#6 TKGuy

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 11:29 PM

I think batting 8th to start the season and having some experience at this level will mean he will really be improved this year

#7 LaBombo

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 11:53 PM

Good article. It's difficult not to be a little cautious with the optimism after what happened last year, but there are definitely some encouraging things in there, without it being a Twins puff piece.

#8 cmathewson

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:40 AM

Great article. It is a clear statement about my optimism for the kid. It's interesting that guys who come in and play well right away tend to slump in their sophomore seasons. Conversely, guys who struggle in their debuts tend to play better the next year. Some of this is simple statistical regression. In Hick's case, I think it's also improvement. You articulated the improvement part very well.

#9 pierre75275

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:13 AM

I am excited go see Hicks play. I think he will do wonderful. At least I hope so. I have high hopes fof him

#10 JB_Iowa

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:30 AM

Thanks for the responses. I'm anxious to see how he does this year. He has looked more mature at the plate (from what we've seen so far) and he definitely looks more mature physically --- if he comes up to bat and I'm not thinking about who is up in the batting order, I'll think "who is that big guy" until I see his face.

He can be spectacular in the field at times (and make you shake your head at other times) -- but that isn't so unusual. And part of maturing seems to be to get that to all come together.

Seems like his head is in the right place.

#11 cmathewson

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 06:38 AM

I had not heard the thing about how the large stadiums affect the flight of the ball, or how hard it is to pick up the ball off the bat with a full second deck. It makes sense that there would be a learning curve. In the first couple of months, he was tentative, especially on balls hit in front of him. He looked like he was not picking up the ball very well. But I saw improvement last year on the routine plays. If he cleans that up, he could become an elite fielder.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#12 tobi0040

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 07:04 AM

Great article. It is a clear statement about my optimism for the kid. It's interesting that guys who come in and play well right away tend to slump in their sophomore seasons. Conversely, guys who struggle in their debuts tend to play better the next year. Some of this is simple statistical regression. In Hick's case, I think it's also improvement. You articulated the improvement part very well.


I think the Twins made the right call with Hicks here and you almost wonder if cutting Presley wasn't done to take pressure off Hicks a little bit. In any event, I think he is a guy that will walk 7-8% of the time, given 500 AB's should hit 12-15 HR's, and has plus range and a plus arm in CF. Given that, he only needs to hit about .250 or .260 to have an OPS north of .700. That is a pretty good CF.

One slight correction to the write up. I remembered Hicks had a lot more velocity than 90 as a pitcher. I looked and his BA write up said he was in the 92-94 range and touched 97.

14. Minnesota Twins
Aaron Hicks, of, Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Age: 18.


Scouting Report


A magnet for scouts since his sophomore season, Hicks is the finest prep outfielder/pitcher prospect in the greater Los Angeles area since Daryl Strawberry in the early 1980s. He most resembles Adam Jones, who was a first-round talent as both an outfielder and pitcher. As an outfielder, Hicks projects as a five-tool player, and his arm grades out to near 80 on the scouting scale. With his plus speed (6.6 seconds over 60 yards), Hicks is a daring and aggressive baserunner. His speed, easy range and arm mean Hicks will begin his career as a center fielder. Prior to the 2008 season, many scouts had reservations about his hitting ability. A switch-hitter, he's shown improvement by lowering his hands. His hitting mechanics and lightning reflexes permit scouts who believe in him to project him as an above-average hitter with above-average power. As a pitcher, Hicks' fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range, and in a mid-May start he was at 94-97. His curveball shows wicked movement and he adds a hard cutter and a change. Clubs were split on whether Hicks would pitch or hit, but either way, he's expected to go in the middle of the first round.


#13 gunnarthor

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 07:16 AM

I've always liked Hicks and, at the end of the day, he has some real talent. It'll show up eventually.

#14 MileHighTwinsFan

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 07:56 AM

I am not sure if it exciting or depressing to think that a guy who hit below .200 last year is being relied on to be a key bat for this year's team. Besides Mauer, he is the only guy who has shown any signs of life at the plate. Let's hope it translates when the games count.

A successful year from him will be the main reason to flip on the TV or radio every night this summer. I am hoping for the best.

#15 savvyspy

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 08:28 AM

I like Hicks.

He has less pressure on him because the only other player that the team is willing to put in the outfield is Jason Bartlett and I would only call him an "outfielder" if you made air quotes every time you said it.

Plus now that the bar for making the team is batting .078 I think Hicks will clear that hurdle with ease.

Hicks has the talent to be a very solid major league player. Hopefully they run him out there everyday all season.

#16 iTwins

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 08:41 AM

Hicks has a great deal of talent. It appeared in (all too infrequent) flashes in 2013 - but you could see the potential there. Hopefully after taking his lumps last year, he's ready to adjust and improve. The Twins certainly could use another bright spot in the lineup.

I'm having a good feeling about Hicks this year. (Of course, I had that feeling last year too...so that isn't exactly a ringing endorsement).

#17 halfchest

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 08:48 AM

I was in the send him down to AAA camp at the beginning of the spring. I'm more than ok with this plan. I'm hopeful that taking the winter off helped him clear his head and work on the fundamentals of his game. Hopefully its a case of him figuring out the difference between AA and MLB pitchers and now he has a better idea how to adjust and get rid of the holes in his swing.

I liked watching him defensively and given the reports of his defense from the minors I'm confident he can be an above average to top ten centerfielder and eventually a top 5 defensive corner guy. He just will need the bat to back it up.

Hoping for a September 2014 outfield of Arcia, Hicks, and Buxton.

#18 strumdatjag

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:24 AM

I'd like to hope Hicks will become a star and a longterm solution for lead-off (Line-up Hicks, Buxton, Mauer, Sano . . . ), but think it will ultimately be Buxton at leadoff/CF. More realistically, I think we'll be accepting Hicks as a .250 to .275 hitter, at best, taking a role in the #7 or #8 spot with light power but decent speed - playing left field (maybe right if these reports on his arm are correct). There is enough talent in our system and with Mauer as #3 for a few more years, that this type of contribution should be satisfactory, but not dazzling.

#19 tobi0040

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:38 AM

I'd like to hope Hicks will become a star and a longterm solution for lead-off (Line-up Hicks, Buxton, Mauer, Sano . . . ), but think it will ultimately be Buxton at leadoff/CF. More realistically, I think we'll be accepting Hicks as a .250 to .275 hitter, at best, taking a role in the #7 or #8 spot with light power but decent speed - playing left field (maybe right if these reports on his arm are correct). There is enough talent in our system and with Mauer as #3 for a few more years, that this type of contribution should be satisfactory, but not dazzling.


If Hicks hits .250-.275 he can definitely play in LF or RF. I put his OBP around .330 to .350 and his OPS around .720-.750. Probably about average for that spot and that would make him about the best defensive OF in the league for a corner spot. Not bad for a guy under control for a long time.

#20 halfchest

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:49 AM

If Hicks hits .250-.275 he can definitely play in LF or RF. I put his OBP around .330 to .350 and his OPS around .720-.750. Probably about average for that spot and that would make him about the best defensive OF in the league for a corner spot. Not bad for a guy under control for a long time.


Me and a buddy were just discussing how odd it was that Hicks was as bad as he was last year. One thing that has been pretty consistent for him is IsoD and I also understand this generally translates very well up the chain. If he can get anywhere near his career IsoD of .112 in the minors he will be just fine in a corner position. An all star? no, but a very solid contributor for years.

If you add in the fact he should be a top defender in a corner spot and provide backup CF flexibility, allowing for an all bat no field corner guy as your 4th OF, he could be very useful. I'm a huge fan of having a guy in the corner that can handle CF so you don't need a pressley/Tyner/etc. type on your bench.

#21 Dantes929

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 09:49 AM

I am really rooting for him not so much for what he can contribute for this year but to prove we can rely on him for the future. An outfield of Hicks, Buxton and Rosario could truly be elite defensively. I never really appreciated elite outfield defense until I saw a series at home against the Rays a couple years back. We lost the series instead of sweeping it because we didn't get to balls we should have and they got to balls I thought they had no chance at. What a difference it makes! There will be games where there are 2 or 3 extra base hits that are turned into outs. When Denard Span moved to right field a few years ago he showed the impact of having speed in the corners as well as center field. I can definitely see Hicks being a superior corner outfielder.

#22 tobi0040

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 10:20 AM

I'm a huge fan of having a guy in the corner that can handle CF so you don't need a pressley/Tyner/etc. type on your bench.


That is a good point. You could have a guy with defensive flexibility like Escobar back up CF (but who could hit better). You could open the door for a nice platoon at 3B, LR, or RF. For example, if you had a left handed hitter with good splits against righties, he could platoon with Plouffe at 3B, with the DH or LF, etc.

#23 sandbun

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 10:29 AM

I'm hopeful and more optimistic than some that Hicks will start showing the promise we saw from him and will be a solid CF for us, but I have to say anytime a team talks about removing any competition for a player to make him feel better I start worrying a lot. He's supposed to play in the majors, but can't handle the pressure of a player coming for his job? Isn't this the logic the Vikings used with Ponder? No competition, and he'll feel so confident, it'll be great! How'd that work out?

#24 cmathewson

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 10:56 AM

I'm hopeful and more optimistic than some that Hicks will start showing the promise we saw from him and will be a solid CF for us, but I have to say anytime a team talks about removing any competition for a player to make him feel better I start worrying a lot. He's supposed to play in the majors, but can't handle the pressure of a player coming for his job? Isn't this the logic the Vikings used with Ponder? No competition, and he'll feel so confident, it'll be great! How'd that work out?


No one in the organization said that. That was speculation from those here. He had to beat out Presley or go back to AAA. He did that, resoundingly.

The pressure is off primarily because of confidence, maturity and familiarity. Also, batting eighth should help.
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#25 sandbun

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:02 AM

No one in the organization said that. That was speculation from those here. He had to beat out Presley or go back to AAA. He did that, resoundingly.

The pressure is off primarily because of confidence, maturity and familiarity. Also, batting eighth should help.


Phil Miller ‏@MillerStrib 18h The idea, Gardy said, is to take as much pressure off Hicks as possible. He'll play every day.

#26 CRArko

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:02 AM

Yeah, I read Gardy's statement as it was batting him eighth to reduce the pressure, not removing the competition (such as it was).

I expect by May sometime to see Hicks again hitting lead off.

#27 sandbun

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:10 AM

Yeah, I read Gardy's statement as it was batting him eighth to reduce the pressure, not removing the competition (such as it was).

I expect by May sometime to see Hicks again hitting lead off.


Looking again you're probably right. I don't follow Miller and just grabbed the quote from Wetmore's retweet which didn't include the previous tweet. So I missed the context. Sorry. I still don't like that he's working without a net though.

Edited by sandbun, 28 March 2014 - 11:14 AM.


#28 daanderson20

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:34 AM

There may certainly still be the pressure to live up to expectations -- that never really goes away until you do.



Two ways to read that sentence.

#29 spycake

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 11:37 AM

Me and a buddy were just discussing how odd it was that Hicks was as bad as he was last year. One thing that has been pretty consistent for him is IsoD and I also understand this generally translates very well up the chain.


Does it? Seems like every recent Twins prospect has had real trouble in the BB% and K% departments upon hitting MLB (and some of them even in AAA).

Of course, it's quite possible that most of these "prospects" were more of the AAA/AAAA variety to begin with, but it was a bit alarming to see it happen (and so severely) to Hicks and Arcia last year, two honest-to-goodness prospects.

FWIW, this spring, Hicks has 2 BB vs 6 Ks in 49 PA. (And Arcia 3 BB vs 16 Ks in 53 PA.)

#30 halfchest

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 12:16 PM

Does it? Seems like every recent Twins prospect has had real trouble in the BB% and K% departments upon hitting MLB (and some of them even in AAA).

Of course, it's quite possible that most of these "prospects" were more of the AAA/AAAA variety to begin with, but it was a bit alarming to see it happen (and so severely) to Hicks and Arcia last year, two honest-to-goodness prospects.

FWIW, this spring, Hicks has 2 BB vs 6 Ks in 49 PA. (And Arcia 3 BB vs 16 Ks in 53 PA.)


I know I've read that somewhere that discipline is a better sign than something like batting average and translates better as well. So a prospect is more likely to replicate discipline than a high batting average. I don't have a source I just know I've read that in the past and it's one reason I'm hopeful for Hicks. Arcia doesn't have the discipline that Hicks has shown in the minors either. Both of those guys had their first taste last year so this will tell a lot about them in the next few months. Hopefully Arcia avoids striking out 20 times in a row again or whatever that horrid streak he went on last year. I'll see if I can find something that backs up IsoD and how it translates to MLB numbers.