I'm not holding my breath on Colabello. That HR he hit off Jake Brigham on Wednesday was a 90 mph fastball inner half, but he went the other way with it because, far as I can tell, he struggles to get around. I suspect he's swinging a gigantic bat, crossing his eyes, and hopes he connects. He's still standing 5 feet off the plate too. Maybe he can be a factor against garbage opposition but he will get pwned by anyone halfway decent, with that approach.
I have a tough time believing Hicks will be here on opening day. I really want him to spend some time at Rochester. Not sure on Cola and Parmelee. I think Parmelee is the better bet to succeed long term, but I have to think that this will be his last shot. I wouldn't mind Cola as a late inning bench bat. None of the other bench options look like options if you need an offensive sub.
So the question is whether Hicks is a high upside guy or a grinder? I fall in high upside camp. It seems the Twins do too, if I'm reading the line-up cards right. I think he learned everything he needs to learn to be successful up here last year. I know not everybody agrees. But I just don't see him needing more seasoning. If they had De Aza to hold down the fort until Hicks has filed off all his rough edges, I might think otherwise. But I'm willing to live with a few rough edges if it means not having to watch Presley every day.
If he had major holes in his game, I would think differently. I would want him to work on those things in AAA for the sake of his development. I don't see any major holes. He has a good eye. He has shown an ability to make adjustments and be a bit more aggressive, when appropriate. He will never be a high contact guy, but that's not something you can teach. He will always need to rely on pitch selection, which is as it ever was for him. I have no qualms about his defense. He's still got stuff to learn. But so do most of the guys on the team.
That's one of the reasons I love baseball so much--watching guys make adjustments so they can be more successful. If I'm going to invest in following a kid this way, I want him to have a chance at greatness. I think Hicks has that. If they sent him down, I would do a road trip or two to Rochester, just as I plan several such trips to New Britain (75 mins away) to watch Buxton. He's not in Buxton's class. But I think Hicks compares favorably to Torii Hunter.
I too want Hicks to succeed as I think he and Buxton could be awesome in the outfield together. I would really like to see Wilkin Ramirez step up. I think he's got some ability to provide offensive speed and defense this season. Ramirez, Hicks, and Arcia in the outfield, Presley on the bench, and Hammer DH would improve the defense a lot.
Wilkin Ramirez in my opinion should step us and claim his rightful spot in Rochester's outfield, he does not belong in the Twins starting lineup. But of course Alex Presley should accompany him on the trip to Rochester as well.
It's interesting to me that even after the fiery crash of Aaron Hicks last year, there's still belief that a handful of spring training at bats is a pretty useful tool to decide who makes the Opening Day lineup and roster, including...Aaron Hicks.
He was overmatched in both MLB and AAA last year, and he didn't play winter ball. It's hard to see how 5 hits in 20 AB's (or 15 in 45, for that matter) provides any meaningful counter to the relatively substantial evidence that he's not ready yet.
OPS by month:
Clete Thomas 2013 OPS: .597
Alex Presley 2013 OPS: .699
So from May to the end of the year, Aaron Hicks was the best center fielder on the Twins in 2013. And he didn't perform nearely as well as anybody expected. But he made an adjustment towards the end of April that carried through until they sent him down. He carshed and burned in his first 10 games. After that, he held his own.
Gardy gave AB's to 4 different CFers today and they're still carrying Ramirez too right? That's 5 CFers. I don't think the job is Hicks' to lose, for better or worse.
Spring training numbers mean very little. Hicks' 2013 spring should be a good example of that. Presley performed adequately last September and that pretty much provides him a roster spot and the inside track to starting the season as the starter in center. He hasn't closed the deal, but no one else has either.
I also think you have to take the position in context. The Twins need two guys who can play center. Presley is one of those guys no matter what. The other guy is either Mastro or Hicks. If it's Hicks, he's the starter and Presley gives him a couple of days off a week. If it's Mastro, Presley's the starter and Mastro plays back-up. The team will take the best combination. The fact that neither Mastro nor Presley has played well yet is making that combo less likely by the day. Add Mastro's roster issue, and I'd say a Hicks/Presley combine is the odds-on favorite right now.
One other thing on that. The Twins have said they are willing to give Hicks a mulligan on how he started. As bad as he played, he also was alone, because Mastro broke his leg on the last day of spring and they didn't put him on the DL until April 15 or something. So there was no one else to play center for the first 16 games. Normally, when a guy struggles, you give him a day off to clear his head. Hicks didn't have that luxury. He had to take his lumps. Gardy has alluded to the way he responded to this with praise.
Finally, I wouldn't read too much into Presley's extended tryout in September. They try to that with every newly acquired player, to give the field staff a long look at the player heading into the offseason. The fact that Presley performed about as well as Hicks had prior to being sent down is not all that positive, especially since Presley was doing it in a low pressure situation. If he had hit like Pinto or something, I'd say give him the job until Hicks takes it from him. But he was just OK, with clearly less outfield range or arm than Hicks.
Agreed that Ramirez is not a CF, but I thought he played LF pretty well. Very small sample since it was only a couple innings as a defensive sub, but he showed good speed and a good jump/route.