Aaron Hicks was the Opening Day starter in center field for the Minnesota Twins in 2013 and his Major League career has been nothing short of a disaster since then as he is just a .201 career hitter.
Minnesota messed up in their handling of Hicks, who made his Major League debut despite no Triple-A experience. The Boston Red Sox made the exact same mistake with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field the same year, and Bradley’s career average is even worse than Hicks’.
There is no way to argue that Hicks was ready for the Major League back in 2013; the organization messed up in analyzing his abilities then, and in 2015 it seems they have done it again in reverse by starting Hicks in the minors.
The Twins have scored just one run through three games and the defense behind a struggling pitching staff has been subpar. In one game with the Rochester Red Wings (AAA), Hicks has already shown his ability to provide with both his bat and glove.
At the plate yesterday, Hicks was 2-for-3 with a home run. He also drew two walks and scored three runs. After shipping Triple-A the first time, Hicks has proven himself well at that level going back to his play with Rochester last season after he was demoted in June. He batted .278 with the Red Wings and posted a .349 on-base percentage. The Twins took Hicks back as a September call-up and he drove in nine runs in the month, which should have proven that his development was there and he was Major League ready.
Defense at any level has never been an issue for the 25-year-old California native and he has often appeared on Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems over the past two seasons, but it’s also worth noting that he saved a run yesterday in the first inning with an amazing diving catch.
He’s not going to win a batting title and he may never be an All-Star, but Aaron Hicks is a Major League-caliber center fielder and he is the only Major League-caliber center fielder on the Twins’ 40-man roster. Paul Molitor should have Hicks in his lineup every day, even if he’s just batting ninth, where the team has Jordan Schafer right now.
Schafer is a career .229 over six season in the Majors. With that sample size at almost 29 years old, it’s irrational to believe Schafer is about to turn a corner in his career. He’s also nowhere near as talented defensively as Hicks is.
Minnesota won’t get better making all these safe roster moves and after messing up while judging Hicks for a second time, fans need to hope at this point that the organization hasn’t crippled him as a player so he can have a strong career and produce for the team.