Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Second Chance for Aaron Hicks

    For me, (2013) is in the past. Last year is last year. I want to focus on this year and be able to be the guy I know I can be. Those were the words of Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks last month at Twins Fest.

    A year ago at this time, the Minnesota Twins had traded its two centerfielders, Denard Span and Ben Revere. Aaron Hicks was coming off a season at AA New Britain in which he hit .286/.384/.460 (.844) with 21 doubles, 11 triples, 13 home runs and had 32 stolen bases as a 22 year old. The Twins were touting his athleticism and talent from Twins Fest until spring training. Hicks then put up tremendous numbers in spring training and won the starting centerfield job. After that, little positive occurred for the 23 year old.

    Hicks was the Twins first round pick (14th overall) in 2008 out of high school in California. Four times, he was listed among the Top 100 prospects in baseball. Heading into the 2013 season, he was ranked #72 and a top five in the Twins system.

    He has a history of getting off to a slow start at each level. However, he has also shown the ability overcome the struggles and succeed with time. That just didnt happen with the Twins in 2013. In 313 plate appearances over 81 games, he hit .192/.239/.338 (.597) and struck out almost 27% of the time. Late in the year, he was sent down to Rochester where he fought injuries the rest of the season.

    Of course it bothered me. Normally, it takes a while for me to respond to the competition and then I respond. This year, Im ready to respond. I know what I did wrong. I did everything this offseason to put it all together to have a better year this year.

    After the season, there was talk about the Twins wanting Hicks to play winter ball. However, Hicks thought the right thing for him to do was to take time off during the offseason. I thought a little about it, but I felt like it would be better for me to relax and think about stuff I need to do and get ready for another season rather than go right into another season. Really, just rest the body up. Ive never had an offseason before. Ive always played somewhere. It felt good to just relax.

    Instead, Hicks did a few things to make himself better, mentally and physically. Ive just been mainly working out. I got a little heavier, trying to get a little bit stronger to do what I can to make the team again. And to be the guy I know I am.
    He got bigger. Im 210 now. I think I came in last year at about 200. I just felt like I wanted to be stronger, to be able to generate more power.

    He also continued to work out with and confide in a pretty solid baseball man. Who is the guy that he goes to when hes struggling? For me, itd be (Rod) Carew because hes been with me since AA and actually before that. Hell ask me questions about little stuff and he really helps me out a lot.

    He said that the two worked out and hit about three days each week, and sometimes on the weekend depending on their schedules.

    He also had time to think about what happened in 2013. This game is so crazy that you can be hot one day or hot for two weeks and all of a sudden it can be like youve never hit before. It just happened. Maybe going to AAA helped me clear my mind and be able to just play, just enjoy playing the game. I felt like up here maybe I was trying to do too much.

    Baseball is a game full of second chances. Hicks will compete with Alex Presley and Darin Mastroianni (who was removed from the 40-man roster this offseason) for the starting centerfield job for Opening Day 2014.

    So what are his thoughts as spring training is approaching? What is he expecting of himself this year? Im expecting to try to win a job again, just like last year. Hopefully its in the big leagues. If I go to AAA, do what I can to get back here.

    It is also fair to note that Hicks better understands spring training after his 2013 season. Spring training is different than the big leagues. I need to be focused and understand that its a process. Its not just going to be easy for me. Youre going to have to take your lumps here and there. It was also a good learning experience, that its a grind every day.

    Hicks knows that Byron Buxton is coming up quickly, but the two have a good relationship. We dont really ever talk baseball. Im just trying to get used to him. If I can, give him a little bit of wisdom here and there. Hes been doing pretty good, so Im just going to leave him alone.

    Aaron Hicks will be just 24 through the 2014 season, but it is still a big year for him. At some point during the season, he will get another opportunity with the Twins. He plays tremendous defense and has a very strong arm, but will he be able to make adjustments at the plate to put up box score filling numbers again? If so, he still has a chance to be a very good, everyday player.

    I had the worst of it all last year. I understand failure up here. Id rather go through that and deal with it. Now I know going into this year how to prepare.
    Comments 60 Comments
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Interesting he worked on strength. Hope that doesn't make him slower.
      Is he going to continue being a switch hitter?
    1. Gene Larkin Fan Club's Avatar
      Gene Larkin Fan Club -
      Hopefully, he will just do whatever the hell Sir Rodney tells him to do!
    1. Supfin99's Avatar
      Supfin99 -
      Does anyone else see a lot of similarities between Hicks and Dozier? Both had really bad rookie years, got sent down and did not get called back in September. Dozier was being written off last year at this time just the way Hicks is now. Dozier came out and had a really solid 2nd year. I have high hopes that Hicks will do the same. He has the talent to do it. I would love to see an outfield in August of Hicks, Buxton and Arcia.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Sounds like Hicks has his feet firmly planted on the ground. I know he caught some flak over not playing winter ball, but I have no problem with what he decided. This is his career and who can argue that spending 3-4 days a week working with Carew is not as beneficial as playing what are essentially meaningless games in foreign countries for teams interested solely in winning games, rather than working on improving his skills.

      Stumbling in your first exposure to MLB isn't new, nor is it fatal for your career. Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and others have had false starts, regrouped and gone on to successful careers. Maybe Hicks will, too. If so, it would be huge for the Twins in 2014 and beyond.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Interesting he worked on strength. Hope that doesn't make him slower.
      Is he going to continue being a switch hitter?
      Of course.... it's never really been a question... only with fans.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gene Larkin Fan Club View Post
      Hopefully, he will just do whatever the hell Sir Rodney tells him to do!
      Because of Carew's track record as a hitting coach? I'm kidding, but it's great to have someone to just bounce things off of, and to be able to talk to... especially when the guy is a Hall of Famer.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      Does anyone else see a lot of similarities between Hicks and Dozier? Both had really bad rookie years, got sent down and did not get called back in September. Dozier was being written off last year at this time just the way Hicks is now. Dozier came out and had a really solid 2nd year. I have high hopes that Hicks will do the same. He has the talent to do it. I would love to see an outfield in August of Hicks, Buxton and Arcia.
      There certainly are a lot of similarities... It's probably not fair to either of them to assume the results will be the same, but I think giving up on Hicks based on 2013 would be completely silly.
    1. pierre75275's Avatar
      pierre75275 -
      I have a lot of hope for Mr. Hicks, I think he will be very good and figure things out. Last year didn't work out for him. Doesn't mean this year won't . Sounds like he has a bit of chip on his shoulder which is always a good thing for an athlete to have. I think he will be a lot better then people give him credit for
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Hicks's experience should serve to sober the enthusiasts of Twins' prospect's MiL statistics--"it's a whole new game" as they say.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Hick's seemed to have a hole in his swing last year as i remember saying to myself I hope he just makes contact when he was up to bat. Just making contact would be an improvement. I was surprised by his power last year and if he is bulking up that should only help that even more. Is the bulk up an admission that he likely will need to play a corner position and need to hit for more power? I really like his athleticism and if he makes it I believe he will be good for a long time and a big part of maybe the best outfield the Twins have ever had. This truly is a big year for him.
    1. huhguy's Avatar
      huhguy -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Interesting he worked on strength. Hope that doesn't make him slower.
      Is he going to continue being a switch hitter?
      Is what if he has a superman spring...he will still be sent down to AAA because once again we wont know if its real...
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I still have a lot of hope for Hicks, and would really like to see him in the Twins OF this season. I think the team will need his defense and to be brutally honest I'd really like it if I didn't see Willingham rumbling around out there. Hopefully, he's made some adjustments and will have a better approach at the plate.

      While I liked his patience and willingness to take pitches, it seemed like he put himself too far in the hole and really paralyzed himself up there until he eventually would flail at something. Mentally he was a mess at the plate. Hopefully, Carew & Brunansky can get him settled down so he can use his talent.

      I really think Hicks is going to be a mainstay in the OF. He can hold down CF just fine until Buxton is ready, and I think he'll hit enough to slide over to a corner slot and give the team a solid defensive alignment even with Arcia in one of the other corner slots. It's worked for the Twins before, when Gomez & Span covered 3/4 of the OF on their own and gave Kubel or Cuddyer some relief from having to chase down everything.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Supfin99 View Post
      Does anyone else see a lot of similarities between Hicks and Dozier? Both had really bad rookie years, got sent down and did not get called back in September.
      I seem to remember reading stories that Dozier had reached out to Hicks to encourage him after he got sent down in kind of "been there, lived through it and made it back" kind of way.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Good to hear about him and Carew.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Of course you don't give up on the guy. Ideally, he would have to earn his way back to the majors by succeeding in the minors but Pressley doesn't excite me at all. We know hicks still plays good D and we know he has good power. I suspect he will start in the minors but even a month of hitting .270 or better will get him back up.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      Hicks's experience should serve to sober the enthusiasts of Twins' prospect's MiL statistics--"it's a whole new game" as they say.
      Another way to see it, Kwak, is that guys like Hunter and Cuddyer stumbled out of the gates. It's a common occurance. Therefore there's little logic in taking a sober view towards Hicks just yet.

      Someone (cmath?) posted BA's top 10 Twins prospects from 2008 in another thread, juxtaposing it with our 2014 top 10. Virtually everyone will agree that the 2014 group is vastly superior. And yet, every single prospect on the rather unimpressive 2008 list had at least a cup of coffee in MLB. So, when I see the stats and read the scouting reports on the 2014 group, it doesn't sober me, it excites me. Hick's experience is completely irrelevant to me.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I still hold out quite a bit of hope for him, though I do think that regardless of how he does this spring, he starts in Rochester and gets the call after he's earned it. I'd rather not have a repeat of last year.
    1. Halsey Hall's Avatar
      Halsey Hall -
      Hicks took batting practice the last 2 days. They take 4 rounds of 5 swings. Yesterday his first three rounds were from the left side and the last the right. Today I only watched his first which again was from the left.

      I'd really like him to pick it up and start with the Twins. We need all the sticks we can get.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Hicks should get a ton of reps this year at AAA and MLB to see what he can do. There came a point last year where everything got in his head. The way I see it, if he has good speed and a great arm. If he can be a .260 BA/.330 OBP guy with those assets he is a starting CF in this league and would at a minimum could be traded. If he is a .280/.350 guy with 20-30 SB, and a great arm and range he could probably be worth a shot in LF or RF.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      All the stats on the back of his baseball card count. But if you are trying to use his 2013 season at age 23 to forecast what's to come, I think he (more than most) deserves a closer look. I've posted this before, but it gives me comfort to review it again.

      By my reading of his game log, there was a six week stretch starting in late April where his OPS was almost .700. Not bad for that age. Then he got hurt and was out three weeks. When he came back, he seemed to pick up where he left off and posted OPS above .800 for a couple of weeks.

      After the All Star break he was really terrible at bat, and I believe it was said he had some physical issues again sometime before being sent to AAA after July. Because he had been clearly getting himself out, the first two weeks in April, and then had a bizarre week right after that where his OBP was .476 based on top of a .167 BA, presumably having adjusted to the pitchers' approach to him, the start and end of his season combined for horrifying numbers.

      If that's cherry picking, so be it, but the Small Sample Size of 29 games where he stunk was smaller than the Small Sample Size of 52 games where he was a useful major league player. He still, to me, has fantastic promise.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.