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What impact might Aaron Hicks have in 2015?


DocBauer
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Of course, we could also ask, "will Aaron Hicks have any impact in 2015"?

 

This thought occurred to me the other night when I watched him have a pair of real quality AB's while driving in a pair of clutch RBI in the eventual loss to the Angels.

 

We are all very much of Hick's struggles the past two seasons while up with the Twins. A poor 2013 with some limited progress before injury and demotion. Not much improvement in 2014, but a higher over OB%, and perhaps looking at least a little less overmatched. No need to rehash.

 

However, coming off his 2012 season at AA, the best season of his milb career, he was a top prospect not only in the Twins system, but was ranked as a top 100 prospect in milb by both MILB and Baseball America, though their individual rankings varied with MILB placing him at 15 and BA had him at 72. Still, a top 100 prospect. As a reminder, Hicks' 2012 stats at New Britain:

 

100 R's, 21-11-13 XB#'s, 61 RBI, and a triple slash of .286/ .384/ .460/ .844 with 32 SB in 43 attempts.

 

Impressive. And a reminder of the player he has been, projected to be, and everyone hoped to be before what appears to be a rushed promotion in 2013.

 

Sent out this season to find himself again, as well as obviously gain confidence, he did the following in the minors:

 

AA: 43 Games, 30R's, 11-1-4 XB#'s, 21 RBI, and a triple slash of .297/ .404/ .466/ .871

AAA: 24 Games, 9R's, 5-0-1 XB#'s, 8 RBI, and a triple slash of .278/ .349/ .389/ .738

 

Stating the obvious, you'd expect him to perform well at AA in a second go around, if not improve. Well, he did that. While that might not seem impressive, consider that he not only didn't pout and flail about, but actually seemed to accept the challenge. Otherwise, you might have seen very different results. His AAA numbers at Rochester are obviously of a very small sample size. Still, they are solid and productive for the short time he spent there, again, as opposed to pouting or regressing. And I think there is something to be considered for that.

 

Now, unlike last season, he's back up to finish out the season. And I think it's clear he is promised nothing in regard to next season other than an opportunity. And that's probably as it should be. Still, with his raw ability, and what I saw him do the other night, I had to ask myself what impact he might potentially have next year on the club.

 

We still have about 3 weeks to finish out and perform, not to mention all of ST next year. But what if what he showed in the minors is a more confident approach? What if he's solid, not great, but at least solid the last 3 weeks? And if this can carry over to next ST......

 

What if he could hit anywhere from .240-.260 next season, and with his history of patience, and OB of somewhere in the .320 range plus or so with some power and SB success with at least decent defense? Is he an asset? Is he a potential starter in CF until Buxton, freeing up Santana for more time at SS with, perhaps, occassional duty in CF?

 

Can Hicks have an impact in 2015? And what do you think it would take for that to happen?

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I think he can have an impact. I'm not ready to hand him any position though. I'd like to see what his September split is once the season is over. He hit well in AA, not as much in AAA. I think the best course of action is to start him in AAA and make him earn it. I think the Twins should sign a 1 year stop gap in CF and try to stash a 4th OF type guy in Rochester. If the CF fails and Hicks is doing well, then promote him. If they both fail, let Schaffer have it. If they both succeed, then trade the reclamation project at the deadline and promote Hicks.

 

 

Next season is his last option too I believe.

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It just seems like Hicks has figured it out. And I would be in favor of the 4th OF if I truly thought the Twins were going to actually really truly maybe possibly sometime soon give Santanna a extended trial at short. One of the problems with prognosticating future lineups is not knowing the future manager. If it's Gardy, there is no sense in another OF, Santanna will not play short for him.

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I have been a big fan of Hicks, what I think many people have not tracked in his career is how long it has taken him to learn his level.  When he first started playing he looked a bust in the minors then after a long stay he finally adjusted and became the prospect he was expected to be.  Last year was a complete waste of a terrible year, however, this year despite his low average, and complete loss of confidence in hitting left handed, he improved leaps and bounds at the plate over last season.  He was working the count and walking a lot more.  After getting sent down it gave him time to clear his head and learn what kind of player he should be, a singles doubles line drive hitter.  I have watched him the last few days and his approach has been better than before.  He is not trying to pull everything but looking to hit up the middle opposite field.  Looking at his learning curve I would expect a respectable year next year from him.  I love that he never gives up when he struggles he just keeps wanting to learn how to be better, some lessor players would have given up.

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Just simply on his general approach. His external attitude looks better. Is he moping around on the club house? You got me? Just more or less the way he has handled himself in this brief call up.. I should have maybe added the words "for now". I think the word l would use is "comfortable". In the past that word would have been replaced with "dazed and confused". Let's let it play out this fall, I don't think there is anymore room in the league for former Twins outfielders?

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I wasn't suggesting he's done or anything.  I'm still a believer he can be part of the future.

 

However, it's been a handful of games and your statement seemed to go way past what we could glean from that small a sample.  Look, we've seen him do this before and people declared the corner was turned then too.  Just a week or so ago he was in AAA sporting a thoroughly unimpressive OPS.  So some perspective here I think is important.

 

Personally, I don't believe the corner is turned yet and it might take more time in AAA before it is.

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I guess I am not as excited by the Hicks resurgence as some.  Looking at his AAA numbers his .738 OPS would have been ranked 80th in AAA for OF with 250 PA or more.  Browsing through the list above him had never-will-be's like Jason Pridie above him so that performance was not really that great.  I was at the game last night and his defense still looks suspect.  There was a ball hit over his head and he completely screwed up the bounce and let the runner turn a double into a triple.  He still isn't driving the ball either with all of his hits since coming back up being singles.

 

I expect another disappointment next year from Hicks and have no faith he will be any part of this team beyond 2015.

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If he refuses to play Winter ball again, I send him straight to AAA to start next year. 

If he plays Winter ball, I give him a shot to make the club in ST.

 

The team can't "make" him play Winter ball, but someone needs to get it through this kid's head that he needs to commit himself year round to bettering his game, not just when he's "on the clock". 

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I would maybe state that between him, Schafer, Santana, and considering the options that are available in free agency, the Twins could probably get away without signing a stopgap CF this offseason.

 

The Twins still need to acquire a LF.

 

And probably some pitching.

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Let's assume he finishes the year strong (not saying it's a given). I think what you do with Hicks depends a lot on two other questions:

 

- is 2015 the year of youth or are we going to try and win 81 games?

- is Buxton's offseason promising enough to make us think he will see Target field in 2015?

 

If we're going to try and compete next year and if we think we need a CF for a few years before Buxton arrives, I think Hicks starts in AAA. Otherwise, why not let him play?

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Here is what you do with Aaron Hicks....

 

PLATOON WITH ARCIA!!!

                                                                                 avg - OBP - slg - OPS

Arcia's numbers vs lefties this year and last year - .181 .252 .324 .576 - 2013 -.254 .274 .386 .659

Hick's numbers vs lefties this year and last year  - .269 .415 .365 .781 - 2013 - 203 .273 .441 .713

 

Arcias numbers vs righties this year and last year - .234 .310 .483 .793 - 2013 - 249 .318 .451 .769

Hick's number vs righties this year and last year  - .191 .306 .234 .540 - 2013 - .189 .255 .311 .566

 

Pretty obvious looking at those numbers these guys have some pretty severe splits in the opposite direction.  Why not just accept the fact that both these guys are probably not every day MLB stars and only play them when they have a chance to be successful.  

 

Hicks could give CF and LF days off functioning as a 4th outfielder as well with a RH starter.  He would also be a late game defensive sub in games the twins have the lead.  Arcia is a bat off the bench against a solid RH bullpen pitcher late in the game on days with a LH starter.

 

Havent heard a lot of talk about this but it makes too much sense to me.

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Let's assume he finishes the year strong (not saying it's a given). I think what you do with Hicks depends a lot on two other questions:

 

- is 2015 the year of youth or are we going to try and win 81 games?

- is Buxton's offseason promising enough to make us think he will see Target field in 2015?

 

If we're going to try and compete next year and if we think we need a CF for a few years before Buxton arrives, I think Hicks starts in AAA. Otherwise, why not let him play?

If we need a CF for "a few years" before Buxton is ready, we're in a world of hurt. If i"m the GM, Buxton and Sano are competing to come out of spring training as my CF and 3B. If they prove to be not quite up to it, I'm leaving Santana, a better defender than maybe any of the outfielders we've trotted out there, as my CF, Escobar as a starter at SS, and Plouffe as my 3B until they ARE ready. If they need all of 2015 in the minors, well, that's gonna suck. If they ARE ready, Santana moves to SS, Plouffe platoons with that Arcia in either LF or RF, and Escobar is a utility guy.

 

My main goals over the winter are to acquire via trade or free agency a two-way corner OF for either RF or LF, and I'm going for quality, a starter that meets or exceeds the Hughes Standard, and a young catcher who we perceive as an upgrade to Suzuki. Minor tweaks to the BP.

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Birdwatcher and I have the Sam plans and thoughts this off season. I predict the world end is nigh......actually, I am sure we agree more than we think, but his last 2 posts are almost word for word my thoughts.

I just got a warning from glunn for plagiarism, mike. 

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Here is what you do with Aaron Hicks....

 

PLATOON WITH ARCIA!!!

                                                                                 avg - OBP - slg - OPS

Arcia's numbers vs lefties this year and last year - .181 .252 .324 .576 - 2013 -.254 .274 .386 .659

Hick's numbers vs lefties this year and last year  - .269 .415 .365 .781 - 2013 - 203 .273 .441 .713

 

Arcias numbers vs righties this year and last year - .234 .310 .483 .793 - 2013 - 249 .318 .451 .769

Hick's number vs righties this year and last year  - .191 .306 .234 .540 - 2013 - .189 .255 .311 .566

 

Pretty obvious looking at those numbers these guys have some pretty severe splits in the opposite direction.  Why not just accept the fact that both these guys are probably not every day MLB stars and only play them when they have a chance to be successful.  

 

Hicks could give CF and LF days off functioning as a 4th outfielder as well with a RH starter.  He would also be a late game defensive sub in games the twins have the lead.  Arcia is a bat off the bench against a solid RH bullpen pitcher late in the game on days with a LH starter.

 

Havent heard a lot of talk about this but it makes too much sense to me.

 

A non contending team should not be platooning its young up coming prospects, maybe (likely) Arcia will never be great at hitting lefties but he can improve but will not without facing them in his formative years.

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Hicks can definitely have an impact in 2015 for the Twins.

 

When the Twins drafted Hicks, he was considered raw. Sure that was 6 years ago, but Hicks is still only 24 years old (25 in the off season). Sometimes it takes a prospect awhile to figure things out.

 

It may not be the best comparable, but Alex Gordon was the 2nd pick in the first round of the 2005 MLB Draft and as a refined college position player it took 6 years before he established himself as a reliable and valuable starting player in MLB.

 

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Hicks will have the success that Gordon has had, but it is apparent the Twins did him no favors last season in his development and it seems sort of insane to throw the towel in on a 24/25 year old baseball player with the talent and potential that Hicks possesses. The Royals did not do that to Alex Gordon and the Twins should not do that to Aaron Hicks.

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I'm an Aaron Hicks homer. If he can post a .330+ OBP, which I think it's reasonable to assume he will based on his numbers from this season, then he's providing value. There are a lot of guys with some pop on this roster, Vargas, Plouffe (doubles+), Pinto, Arcia to name a few. The Twins don't need another masher, they need a guy who can get on base to be mashed around the bases. Cue Aaron Hicks. He can provide value at LF, CF, RF, anywhere you need someone in the OF. Just let him play and get on base.

 

If he's not making outs at a rate above league average, what's the harm in letting him play?

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I'm an Aaron Hicks homer. If he can post a .330+ OBP, which I think it's reasonable to assume he will based on his numbers from this season, then he's providing value. There are a lot of guys with some pop on this roster, Vargas, Plouffe (doubles+), Pinto, Arcia to name a few. The Twins don't need another masher, they need a guy who can get on base to be mashed around the bases. Cue Aaron Hicks. He can provide value at LF, CF, RF, anywhere you need someone in the OF. Just let him play and get on base.

 

If he's not making outs at a rate above league average, what's the harm in letting him play?

I think I generally agree with this. I think his plate discipline in the minors, and even this season at the ML and milb level would indicate he's capable of an even higher OB, especially if he could manage a better overall AVG. I don't think by any stretch he's a finished product yet. Not close. But I agree with previous comments that his appearance at the plate seems more relaxed and confident. If that continues, he might just turn the page next season, even if he doesn't turn to a completely different chapter. And as has been pointed out, he has shown a tendency, much like Hunter, the man he's often been compared to, to take a year to adjust to a level.

 

If we actually could see the development next season, I'd love to see him sandwiched between Santana and Mauer. I am a big Dozier fan, and I still don't think we've seen the best of him yet. And I think playing almost every day, and so much pressure to produce without a consistent hitter behind him, has affected him the second half of the season. Healthy, not tired or overburdened I think he offers real danger for the opposition at the top of the order. But part of me would really like to his power, speed and solid OB in the heart of the order to knock guys in, as well as begin rallies.

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I think he begins 2015 as the Twins starting CF before moving to a 4th OF role after Buxton is promoted late in the season. He's shown improvements this season and I think (read: hope) he's finally starting to figure it out. I think he'll be the best option in CF for the Twins to start the season (plus Hicks in CF means Danny can go back to SS).

 

There's talent there. We've seen flashes of it on and off through two seasons. Hopefully, the Twins have the patience to see the rewards of working with him through these rough patches.

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