• Are Gibson, Hicks Destined For Rochester?

    Some of the most intriguing spring training battles for the Twins are the race for the starting center fielder job and for the last spot in the rotation. Two of the best prospects for the Twins are in the middle of these battles and they both have been putting together decent starts this spring. But even if the rest of the spring goes great for Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson, they could be destined to start the year in Rochester.

    There are a few different reasons to think that the Twins will be patient with these two young players. irst, there is opportunity. The team isn't suppose to be contending in 2013 or maybe even 2014. This means there is no rush to get either of these men to the big leagues. They can both be given the opportunity to find success at Triple-A.

    Second, long-term control and money is a factor.

    If the team waits until a few months into the season, they can control these players for an extra season. There are also rules in place for players that get called up in the first couple months of the season to let them reach arbitration as a super two player. The Twins could avoid some of this hassle by letting other players take their spot on the roster until the middle part of the year.

    Finally, each player's history suggests a slower immersion could be beneficial. Hicks has a history of slow starts when he advances to a new level. He played all of last season at the Double-A level so making a two level jump could be hard on him. The team has been very patient with him up until this point and it makes a lot of sense for the club to continue their patient ways.

    The Twins have been clear that Gibson will be on an innings limit this season. It is his first full year back from Tommy John surgery and it is important to be cautious with a young arm. If the Twins want to control his innings at the beginning of the year, it will be easier to do this in Rochester. They don't want a player in the major league starting rotation that has to be pulled early to keep his innings down.

    Within the organization, there might be some debate. While the front office might want Hicks and Gibson to get a little more experience, the manager might not be in a position to wait for the future. Ron Gardenhire is in the last year of his deal and he can't really afford for the club to get off to a slow start. He has said that he wants Hicks to have a shot to start and Gibson has a brighter future than some of the other rotation options.

    With the moves the Twins have made this offseason, their farm system is considered one of the best in the game. Most of their top-level talent hasn't made appearance above the Double-A level. For now, it looks like a waiting game as these players work their way through the minor leagues.

    So when will the next winning team grace fans at Target Field?

    The estimated arrival time for Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, and Byron Buxton might not be until 2014, 2015 or 2016. If those players make up the core of the next winning Twins team, it might be best to still have multiple years of control over Gibson and Hicks.

    There are going to be reasons to keep Gibson and Hicks with the big league team for the start of the year. However, the reasons to keep them in the minor leagues might outweigh those that are in favor of keeping them up.

    So what do you think? If Gibson and Hicks earn the jobs, should they start the year in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
    This article was originally published in blog: Gibson, Hicks might be destined for Rochester started by Cody Christie
    Comments 128 Comments
    1. fairweather's Avatar
      fairweather -
      Terry Ryan has been pretty clear that he wants to follow the blueprint laid out by Atlanta and Kris Medlan. Gibson will start the season in the bullpen. Gardy wants Hicks to be his CF. Hicks will open the season as the lead-off hitter and CF. I don't think either of them have anything to gain by going to Rochester especially because Brunansky and Cuellar are with the big league team now. That is one thing we can all be thankful for.
    1. Forever34's Avatar
      Forever34 -
      I have no problem waiting a few months to see them in the bigs and not just for the reasons listed above. 2013 is all but designated as a lost cause and we will probably be trading some of our marqee talent in July. No reason to rush any of our top talent. I'd rather have the team 20 games out of first by then and have the kids show up and give us hope for next year than be 10 games out at that point and have to watch them go through growing pains or in Gibson's case risk injury.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Terry Ryan has been pretty clear that he wants to follow the blueprint laid out by Atlanta and Kris Medlan. Gibson will start the season in the bullpen. Gardy wants Hicks to be his CF. Hicks will open the season as the lead-off hitter and CF. I don't think either of them have anything to gain by going to Rochester especially because Brunansky and Cuellar are with the big league team now. That is one thing we can all be thankful for.
      Both Ryan and Gardy have stated that where ever Gibson ends up he will be a starter. He has never pitched out of the bullpen in his career. They want to be able to maintain his routine as a starter and build up arm strength.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by fairweather View Post
      Terry Ryan has been pretty clear that he wants to follow the blueprint laid out by Atlanta and Kris Medlan. Gibson will start the season in the bullpen. Gardy wants Hicks to be his CF. Hicks will open the season as the lead-off hitter and CF. I don't think either of them have anything to gain by going to Rochester especially because Brunansky and Cuellar are with the big league team now. That is one thing we can all be thankful for.
      Do you have a link? I've never heard him say that before.
    1. panolo's Avatar
      panolo -
      I am more mixed on Gibson than Hicks. I think if Hicks continues to have a productive spring he needs to be with the big club. What he brings to the table is something we don't have available in any of the other options. He seems like a smart and level headed kid who can handle the ups and downs that will more than likely come this season. You take a look at players like Adam Jones and Austin Jackson from Detroit who went through struggles but their respective teams showed faith and confidence in them. I think Hicks is pretty close in talent to those guys.

      If they are going to leave Gibson as a starter and not follow Kris Medlen's approach from last year I would hate to see any innings wasted in AAA rather than Gibson getting adjusted to the ML hitters. But you can't run him out there if he is terrible. I would much rather have him up here with the better coaching and medical staff TBH.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I would prefer that they both start at AAA. Most of what I have said about Gibson and AAA to start the year has been disregarded, but it seems to make sense to me. I am not going to repeat it here.

      Hicks is definitely a different case. I don't know how the lineup gets constructed without him, I suppose, so he has that going for him.
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Why does this keep coming up? If Hicks starts with the Twins his service clock starts. By waiting 1 month... just 1... the Twins earn an extra year of control. If he starts with the Twins they will be idiots! It doesn't matter if he is the best CF in the league. It is a terrible business decision to bring him north right away and JR has to know it.

      fairweather, besides a year of control, the Twins also will get to see if Hicks can handle the next level. Hicks has struggled every level he's moved up, why is this (the absolute biggest jump in his career) going to be different? Why would Gibson start in the pen? What benefit does a guy coming off TJ have going to the pen to start the year after he's already thrown 100 innings? Answer: none. Gibson needs to start and will probably start in AAA to build into the season. Starting him with the Twins based on ST numbers is asinine. The Twins know better than that. Historically the Twins have been conservative with prospects and players and I expect nothing less this season.
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Gibson is 25. If he is close, why waste his arm in the minors? Get him acclimated to MLB hitters asap
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      Quote Originally Posted by sorney View Post
      Gibson is 25. If he is close, why waste his arm in the minors? Get him acclimated to MLB hitters asap
      Sano is 21 and could probably hit 30 HR's with the Twins. Why not bring him up now instead of wasting 2+ more years in the minors?

      Player development is more than age and plug and play. Its fun to think prospects will produce at levels they are expected to, but its just not that simple. A lot goes into these decisions that we can't tell from box scores, scouting write-ups and blogs from beat writers. So if he starts in the minors (I'm guessing he will) his arm wont be going to waste. He still might have 10 years of good ball ahead of him, why compromise his development because he's going to get a late start on him MLB career? Had he not been injured he would have seen the Twins 2 years ago, this is what happens when you have a major surgery. Patience. There is no rush right now.
    1. twinscowboysbulls's Avatar
      twinscowboysbulls -
      I'm torn. I want them in Minneapolis, but as far as we know we won't contend this year. If that's the case, what is the point in starting their clocks early? The later the better. Bring them both up in June unless we truly believe we can contend with this team, which is what I think we all want to believe.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      I think you raise some excellent reasons as why these two players should both start the season in Rochester (for their benefit as well as "what's the rush?"). With the current path, I think we are looking at the team being able to contend in 2015 realistically. I think Morneau, Doumit, Carrol, and the Hammer will all be gone by then and their jobs are to just make this team respectable until the young talent is ready.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      For the same reason, why if the 2013 is being thrown away, why bring Gibson and Hicks up until May 2014. Then you will have all the parts in synch as far as control goes.
      My feeling is if Gibson and Hicks belong, please start them up here. It is the only way to not have all the parts and the ups and down at the same time. That is the Royals approach of how they have spent the last 27 years without a playoff appearence. It may be that Hicks is the fourth best outfielder by the time all of the other parts get here(Buxton,Arcia,Kepler,Nate Roberts and others). This is why you do not worry about service time.
      The only players I might think about are those with Scott Boras as an agent, as he will almost never sell a very good player to a mid market team unless they tell him to do it.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinscowboysbulls View Post
      I'm torn. I want them in Minneapolis, but as far as we know we won't contend this year. If that's the case, what is the point in starting their clocks early? The later the better. Bring them both up in June unless we truly believe we can contend with this team, which is what I think we all want to believe.
      I'm in the camp that no matter how good or bad your team is supposed to be in the upcoming season, you bring the best players north to start the year, no matter if they are a rookie without a single MLB at-bat or a 42-year-old-pure-pinch-hitter/DH. Because while we might say that the outlook is bleak, there are plenty of times where that doesn't end up the case, and if you don't have that "best team" to start the year, you might shortchange yourself.

      And as for the quote, I also have a big problem with the "starting their clocks early" thinking. The reason being, if the player is ready and has shown or demonstrated that he is the best option, explain to me exactly how that clock is starting "early"? They are ready, so let them go play.

      This is obviously open for interpretation when it comes to Hicks and Gibson, but I think at this point they are showing they can handle it, as evidenced my the MLB team managers comments related to the two.
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Sano is 21 and could probably hit 30 HR's with the Twins. Why not bring him up now instead of wasting 2+ more years in the minors?

      Player development is more than age and plug and play. Its fun to think prospects will produce at levels they are expected to, but its just not that simple. A lot goes into these decisions that we can't tell from box scores, scouting write-ups and blogs from beat writers. So if he starts in the minors (I'm guessing he will) his arm wont be going to waste. He still might have 10 years of good ball ahead of him, why compromise his development because he's going to get a late start on him MLB career? Had he not been injured he would have seen the Twins 2 years ago, this is what happens when you have a major surgery. Patience. There is no rush right now.
      I understand there's more to player development...a player's prime years are also his age 26-29 seasons. With Sano being 21, you can develop him longer and he still won't be hitting his prime. With Gibson, he is about to enter his prime.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      From Phil Mackey's on-line chat today:

      "Honestly, the service clock thing isn't a huge deal. Teams hold players back to make sure they don't become arbitration-eligible after their second year, which really only saves a couple millions bucks in many cases.

      "2013 is about showing improvement. Fans should be excited to watch a lot of these young dudes play."

      My opinion: Bring the best team north. Fans have a right to watch the best of these young dudes play.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Why does this keep coming up? If Hicks starts with the Twins his service clock starts. By waiting 1 month... just 1... the Twins earn an extra year of control. If he starts with the Twins they will be idiots! It doesn't matter if he is the best CF in the league. It is a terrible business decision to bring him north right away and JR has to know it.

      fairweather, besides a year of control, the Twins also will get to see if Hicks can handle the next level. Hicks has struggled every level he's moved up, why is this (the absolute biggest jump in his career) going to be different? Why would Gibson start in the pen? What benefit does a guy coming off TJ have going to the pen to start the year after he's already thrown 100 innings? Answer: none. Gibson needs to start and will probably start in AAA to build into the season. Starting him with the Twins based on ST numbers is asinine. The Twins know better than that. Historically the Twins have been conservative with prospects and players and I expect nothing less this season.
      I think the idiotic thing would be to worry about what might possibly happen 7 years down the road as opposed to worrying about what's the best thing to do today. If Hicks is the Twins best centerfielder, and close to ready for MLB in 2013, he should be where he belongs, with the Twins. I don't know if either of those things are true, but I do know possibly losing a year of team control in 2020 should be far, far down the list of things to consider when making decisions.
    1. Steve Penz's Avatar
      Steve Penz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      Why does this keep coming up? If Hicks starts with the Twins his service clock starts. By waiting 1 month... just 1... the Twins earn an extra year of control. If he starts with the Twins they will be idiots! It doesn't matter if he is the best CF in the league. It is a terrible business decision to bring him north right away and JR has to know it.

      fairweather, besides a year of control, the Twins also will get to see if Hicks can handle the next level. Hicks has struggled every level he's moved up, why is this (the absolute biggest jump in his career) going to be different? Why would Gibson start in the pen? What benefit does a guy coming off TJ have going to the pen to start the year after he's already thrown 100 innings? Answer: none. Gibson needs to start and will probably start in AAA to build into the season. Starting him with the Twins based on ST numbers is asinine. The Twins know better than that. Historically the Twins have been conservative with prospects and players and I expect nothing less this season.
      If I am not mistaken the Angels kept Trout back last year for this very reason and he is now the best player in the MLB according to a recent list. Hicks is NOT Trout but I think there it is crazy to not believe that one year in his prime far outweighs one month of this season. There is no question that he should go to Rochester.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by SRP View Post
      If I am not mistaken the Angels kept Trout back last year for this very reason and he is now the best player in the MLB according to a recent list. Hicks is NOT Trout but I think there it is crazy to not believe that one year in his prime far outweighs one month of this season. There is no question that he should go to Rochester.
      Trout is eligible to be a free agent in 2018. So 2012 and 5 more seasons...So, six seasons, like normal.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      I question the assumption that 2013 is "designated as a lost cause". Terry Ryan does tend to take the long view, but that does not mean he doesn't care about this year. Gardy's job is on the line, and Ryan has put himself in a similar hot seat, by taking responsibility for the teams success in 2013. They don't just want to win, they expect to win. How realistic they are is perhaps another matter.

      On that note, I don't share most of the pessimism about this team. Last year, the team got off to a very slow start as all the starters either got hurt or faltered. None of those starters is around, but they've been replaced with better ones. This team was in the top five in the league in scoring runs, and all but one of those bats are back. I'm not saying the team will contend, but they will surprise some people.

      If you're paying attention to spring training, Hicks is the frontrunner to go north with the team. And he's expanding his lead, with Mastroiani's hamstring and Benson's rust. At this point, I'd be surprised if he goes to AAA.

      Gibson has to earn a spot, but he has been the most impressive among those competing for the fifth spot. And why waste his limited innings in AAA? Also, Ryan has more recently said he does not want Gibson to be a reliever. Medlen had a lot of relief experience prior to last year. Gibson is a starter and only a starter, according to Ryan.

      All of this is evident if you read Phil Miller's blog on the Strib site.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Look, Gibson isn't going to pitch more than 140-150 innings and that is smart. Would you really rather have him finish the season out by not pitching for all of September?

      I am not convinced that the "best 25" argument applies in obvious losing seasons if a few of those players could get better for the future with some time in AAA.
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