We have a regular column called the “Call Up Report” where we take a good look at a rookie about to get his shot in The Show. Usually these are clustered around June, but it’s looking likely that Aaron Hicks will be the starting center fielder for the Minnesota Twins when they head north.
The odds of the Twins sending a decent pitching staff out to the hill is 5,123,801 to 1, so we’re going to have to cheer real loud, you guys. Let’s turn those cheers toward Aaron Hicks, in part because I have his Topps Heritage Rookie card. It’s sweet like Hicks’ game.
Hicks a 6’2″, 185 lb, switch-hitter was a 1st round pick in 2008, a fact I learned from the back of my rookie card.
He’s an incredible athlete, dripping with raw talent. He’ll steal plenty of bases, but mainly because he’s wicked fast, something that he commonly turns into extra bases. He hasn’t learned to take good jumps or be efficient on the base paths, but that’s something he he’ll learn in time or over a bowl of cereal with Coco Crisp.
His plate discipline is incredibly polished, but has bordered on passive at times. While the high on-base percentage is always welcome, he has also learned that in addition to taking the walk he can also spot a pitch to drive. And drive pitches he’s done this Spring, knocking in 3 home runs in a split-squad game. That, dear readers, is how you win a position battle.
What should we expect in 2013?
First, it should not be assumed that he doesn’t doesn’t start the season in the minors. The Twins are notoriously slow promoting and there are financial reasons to wait until June to give him the call. But while Darin Mastroianni is making him work for it, it pretty destroys this post to talk about Hicks being sent to the minors. So, our first assumption is that he begins 2013 as the starting CF for the Twins.
- First, expect a walk rate above 10%, even considering he’ll be facing tougher pitching. Hicks has a mature approach at the plate and it involves getting on base. From there he’ll maybe swipe a bag, then score a run.
- Second, expect his strikeout rate to hit 25%, then level off to around 20%. Striking out in a quarter of his at bats might be a consequence of an adjustment to MLB pitching, but expect it to quickly level off around 20%, his minor league rate.
- Don’t expect 30 steals. While fast, he’s not necessarily experienced with his jumps. 32 steals his his Double-A number, but I don’t think he cranks 20 his first MLB season.
- Do expect double digit power. While Hicks as been passive in the past, he’s learning to turn the ball back with authority now. Couple that with a frame that is adding muscle and he’ll crack 10 home runs.
I like the upside on Hicks to be 18-22 home runs in his prime, coupled with 25 steals. Given that he should hit at least .285 with a stellar walk rate puts him as a great future leadoff or #2 hitter, meaning lots and lots of runs. All this could lead to Hicks patrolling Target Field friendly CF confines for the next 6-7 years.
But his prime will not be 2013. Temper your expectations this fantasy season and don’t overpay for a lot of ifs. Here’s what I project for 2013: