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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Twins Fan From Afar's 2012 Rock Cats MVP: Aaron Hicks


To think, just 5 months ago, I questioned whether Aaron Hicks had earned his promotion to AA. Of course, at that time, I was basing my concern on Hicks' less-than-impressive High-A slash line of .242/.354/.368 in 2011. Importantly, Hicks was repeating High-A that season, so I had reason to be suspicious.

Boy, was I wrong. Hicks unquestionably had a breakout season in 2012 that, at least for me, firmly places him in the top 5 of Twins prospects going into 2013. Let's look at his numbers from this past season: .286/.384/.460; 21 2B; 11 3B; 13 HR; 61 RBIs (he served as leadoff hitter the last half of the season); 79 BB; 116 K; 32 SB; 11 CS. He accumulated 472 at-bats and scored in even 100 runs.

Hicks led the Rock Cats in several offensive categories. Instead of focusing on that, however, I want to examine Hicks compared to Eastern League batting leaders. After all, he profiles as a future major league regular, so we should be comparing him to the best players in his division, not just on his team. His .286 average is good for 15th in the league. The 11 triples are tied for first in the league, and the 100 runs are solidly in first place in the entire league. Hicks tied for first in walks, was third in stolen bases, and eighth in on-base percentage. All of these numbers boil down to this: an incredibly solid season.

I was a little disappointed that Hicks did not receive a September call-up. Yes, I understand that the outfield is relatively full with Ben Revere, Josh Willingham, Chris Parmelee and Darin Mastroianni. I get it -- Hicks would not have received regular playing time, and it would cost the Twins money to have him sitting on the bench making major league minimum salary. But September call-ups can serve another function aside from helping to ensure that a team has enough healthy bodies at the end of the season: they can be a reward. And Hicks certainly was deserving of a reward. For the record, I also believe that at least one of Chris Colabello (fantastic story and hit the cover off of the ball), Oswaldo Arcia (professional hitter), or Chris Herrmann (catching depth) could have been selected for an extended look at Target Field this final month of the season. But Hicks, above all others, looked like he had earned a call-up in 2012.

One other thing about Hicks -- he is one of the most polite and well-spoken professional athletes that I have ever met. I spoke to him just a couple nights ago, and am not sure that I recall meeting an athlete as humble. I'm certain, of course, that I have seen the last of Hicks in New Britain. I suspect he'll open 2013 in Rochester as their every day center fielder, and will be in position for a call-up next season at this time, if not a little sooner (especially if either Denard Span or Revere is traded). Congratulations, Aaron, on a fantastic season, and good luck in the future.

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