Before the season began, I drew a comparision between two former top centerfield prospects Aaron Hicks and Jackie Bradley Jr.
It wasn’t a hard comparison to make. Both players were top-100 prospects according to MLB.com and had been rushed to the Majors by their respective clubs, each skipping the Triple-A level for a spot in the Opening Day lineup back in 2013.
After they both seemed like incredible disappointment in their first two seasons, they each entered a “make-or-break” 2015 campaign. While Bradley has failed to make an impact for the last place Boston Red Sox, Hicks has suddenly become a force for the surprisingly competitive Minnesota Twins.
Both players had to work just to get an opportunity in what looks to be an important season for them, as they each began the season in the minor leagues. Hicks and Bradley, who are both 25-years old, both excelled in Triple-A at the start of the season and earned callups in early May.
It was a rough go for Bradley, who was sent right back to the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) quicker than he was called up after going 0-for-11 at the Major League level. Now up with Boston for a third time this season, the former South Carolina Gamecock is hitting .139 after tonight’s win against the Chicago White Sox. Things are quickly going south for Bradley, who was at his best ranked the 33rd best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. His career average has dropped to .191 through parts of three seasons and his future as a Major Leaguer is in jeopardy.
Hicks on the other hand is finally looking like the player that the Minnesota Twins expected him to be. After hitting just .201 in his first two seasons, the former first round pick is batting .299 in 2015. Hicks is batting .343 in July after a 3-for-4 outing in tonight’s win over the Seattle Mariners which included a solo home run. Despite not getting called up until May 12th and having a short stint on the disabled list in June, he is tied for the team lead with nine steals this year. With his limited time in the Majors this year, he is also tenth in the American League in outfield assists and hasn’t made and error yet in 2015.
With each player in their third season since making his respective Major League debut, there has been more than enough time to place judgment on each individual player. While Bradley is a player the Red Sox need to put serious thought into giving up on, Minnesota can finally breathe easy as their former top prospect has finally arrived right as the team takes a turn for the better and becomes competitive.
In a way, Hicks will be giving the Twins some good problems down the road with 21-year-old Byron Buxton, the league’s top prospect according to MLB.com, also having his sights set on the team’s starting job in centerfield. Boston will need to face other problems when dealing with their situation in the outfield. While Bradley is hitting below .150, the team has Hanley Ramirez posting a career worst on-base percentage in left field and Cuban import Rusney Castillo looking like a disappointing signing as well. The Red Sox will have to work a little hard to piece together a decent outfield, which isn’t even the biggest problem in the organization right now.