Aaron Hicks #78 – 2013 Top 100
Date of Birth: October 2nd, 1989 (23 years old)
Origin: 1st round pick (#14 overall) by the Twins in 2008 out of Woodrow Wilson H.S. (CA)
Weight: 185 lbs.
Al Skorupa: Aaron Hicks was a very exciting prospect as a draft pick, and he’s been numbered among the Twins’ best prospects ever since. While his tools aren’t quite as loud as they were when he was a teenager, it’s still easy to see the appeal. Hicks is an above-average to plus runner with strong natural athleticism. He’s a good defender in center field and possesses a strong arm. Hicks shows very good bat speed, and you can see that the above-average raw power is in there. Many evaluators had soured on Hicks after another disappointing season in 2011, but he rebounded in 2012. Hicks made some adjustments to his swing this season that improved his bat speed. Despite his natural gifts, Hick can be maddening to watch. He’s patient to a fault (sometimes beyond), and will occasionally get caught watching hittable fastballs go by in the zone. His swing can get long and loopy at times, and he’ll both swing through good velocity and chase soft stuff out of the zone. Hicks still shows impact raw tools but remains many adjustments away from turning those into consistent impact skills. I do believe I saw improvement over the course of 2012 and there’s reason to believe Hicks has turned a corner.
JD Sussman: I was beginning to wonder if the Twins were going to consider moving Hicks back to the mound if his stock continued to slip in 2012. Instead, the post-hype center fielder posted a solid year as a 22-year-old in the Eastern League. Statistics support Al’s assertion that Hicks is to passive with ~40% of his 116 strikeouts coming via called third strikes. With all of the talk of Hicks having an opportunity to win the Twins starting center fielder job during the spring, one has to wonder whether advanced pitching will take advantage of Hicks’s willingness to keep the bat on his shoulder. While I expect a steep learning curve at the plate for the switch hitter, if he can meet his projection as a one win defender in center, that should buy him time to gain major league experience.
Jeff Reese: I think I was the only one to rank Aaron Hicks a year ago. His stock was certainly waning, but he did show flashes of turning those tools into production. The hot streaks were just sandwiched between lengthier periods of futility. Last season was a step in the right direction, and finding the correct balance at the plate — patience without the passivity — could finally see Hicks take that giant leap forward. Throwing him into the major leagues at this point is a bit aggressive, particularly for the Twins — an organization that is notorious for taking slow development paths with their prospects. Triple-A seems like a necessary step for Aaron Hicks; the defense that JD mentions should keep his head above water in the major, and he has performed well in his first couple weeks of spring training, so perhaps he will respond well, again, to a more challenging assignment.
Fantasy Outlook by Al Skorupa
Hicks appears to have a leg up on the starting center fielder job in Minnesota and may even have a chance to bat lead-off. Outfielders who offer both power and speed while hitting in a favorable spot in the order are always a welcomed addition to your fantasy team. Hicks can’t be counted on for a high batting average this season, and the power may not show up immediately either. In a Twins outfield desperate for someone to step up, there is the potential for Hicks to fill that vacancy. With a little luck he could be a sneaky good outfield play in 2013 and an interesting option for 2014 and beyond.