Your place for Minnesota Twins and New Britain Rock Cats coverage, analysis and opinion.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday Rock Cats Report

New Britain is looking for more
consistency from center fielder
Aaron Hicks
Last night's Rock Cats-Fisher cats game was postponed for weather. If the weather in New Hampshire last night was anything like the weather in central Connecticut, postponing was definitely a good idea! With the day off, let's assess how the team is doing, and take a look at a few specific players. The Rock Cats are 29-21, a .580 winning percentage that is good for first place in their division. They are still just 0.5 games ahead of the Reading Phillies, who looked pretty good when I saw them play earlier this month. The Trenton Thunder, at 26-22, are in third place.

Many of the batting averages have settled into the .240-.260 range. There is no current Rock Cats player that is batting even close to .300, and no player has an OPS over .800. As I mentioned yesterday, one guy to keep an eye on is catcher Chris Herrmann. After a slow start, he's been playing well lately, batting .324 over his last 10 games. He's fourth on the team in OPS (.721) and tied for first in batting average (.260).

Aaron Hicks continues to confuse me. I'll start with the positives: from what I have seen, his defense, speed and base running skills are all there. He's got a good arm, too. He's very inconsistent on offense, and I think part of that inconsistency is due to the fact that he is not a solid batter from the left side of the plate. Perhaps, after this season, the organization will make the decision for Hicks that he's better off batting exclusively right-handed. Compared to last season in High A, the walk % is a little lower, the strikeout percentage is a little higher, and the BAPIP is also lower. On the season, he's hitting .246/.335/.392. His last 10 game have been a little better, though: .273/.375/.424 (1 HR and 2 2B in that time frame). It's safe to say that, if the season ended today, Hicks would not have earned a promotion to AAA. In March, I questioned whether Hicks was ready for AA. From what I have seen, he was ready, and he fits in well here. But he definitely has not demonstrated that he is even close to ready for the next level. Hopefully he can settle into a routine and start hitting more consistently as the summer comes.

Finally, I get somewhat frequent questions or comments on Deibinson Romero, probably for a couple reasons: first, he has had a decent year at the plate, and has shown some power; and second, anyone who looks at all decent at third base in the Twins minor league system necessarily will be intriguing to fans as a possible stop-gap between what we have now, and Miguel Sano (unless he outgrows the position). Romero's slash line on the year is .253/.344/.414. It's probably safe to say that he has been one of the two or three best hitters on the club. He, too, has been better over his last 10 games, going .273/.375/.455 with 2 HR and 6 walks. One positive thing: Romero has improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio. Last season, he whiffed 93 times and walked only 40; thus far in 2012, he has struck out 27 times and walked 19. Romero will be 26 years old in September and, barring a promotion this season, it will be his second full season in New Britain. As I have mentioned in other posts, however, the defense is hurting Romero. He has 6 errors on the season, and quite simply does not look sure-footed at the hot corner.

Romero is an interesting case, though: for an organization lacking depth at third base, he has shown the ability to hit for decent power. Is his defense a lost cause, or is there someone, somewhere in the organization that can help this guy take the next step? Sure, I have every expectation that Danny Valencia will work his way back to Minnesota, and I do believe that Valencia can be an adequate big league third baseman, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have some competition.

Tonight the Rock Cats are back in action against the Fisher Cats, and the series concludes with a Thursday morning getaway game. Over the weekend, New Britain hosts the Harrisburg Senators. Be sure to check back for updates! Finally, if you feel like voting for any of the Twins prospects for the 2012 AA All-Star game, you can do so here.

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