Should Twins Fans Worry about Aaron Hicks?

18 Feb

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It is always strange to me when I hear Twins fans and some minor league baseball fans talking about how disappointing Aaron Hicks has been in Beloit. I think part of it is because many, myself included, thought he would end the 2010 season in Ft. Myers. I realize everyone from fans to players to front office personnel are eagerly awaiting his breakout year when his incredible tools become skills and he puts up some terrific numbers. But I wanted to take a look at how his numbers at Beloit compare to other Twins players and their numbers in the Midwest League.

Let’s start by reviewing the numbers that Aaron Hicks has put up the last two years in Beloit:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Aaron Hicks 19 2009 Beloit .251/.353/.382 (735) 15/3/4/29 40/55
Aaron Hicks 20 2010 Beloit .279/.401/.428 (829) 27/6/8/49 88/112

Here are some current and former Twins players and how they did in the Midwest League (Note – Delmon Young’s A-ball numbers from the Sally League):

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Torii Hunter 18 1994 Ft. Wayne .293/.358/.439 (797) 17/1/10/50 25/80
Michael Cuddyer 19 1998 Ft. Wayne .276/.364/.451 (815) 37/7/12/81 61/107
Justin Morneau 20 2001 Quad Cities .356/.420/.597 (1017) 17/2/12/53 26/38
Joe Mauer 19 2002 Quad Cities .302/.393/.392 (785) 23/1/4/62 61/42
Jason Kubel 20 2002 Quad Cities .321/.380/.521 (901) 26/4/17/69 41/48
Denard Span 20 2004 Quad Cities .267/.363/.308 (671) 4/3/0/14 34/49
Delmon Young 18 2004 Charleston .320/.386/.536 (922) 26/5/25/115 53/120
Alexi Casilla 20 2005 Cedar Rapids .325/.392/.409 (801) 11/3/3/17 29/31

Here are a few notes:

  • Everyone talks about how Torii Hunter didn’t put up great numbers in the Midwest League. Well, he did, and he did it at the age of 18. He was already showing some of that power.
  • Michael Cuddyer put up some incredible minor league numbers all the way up the ladder, and it started as a 19 year old in 1998. Look at all those extra base hits.
  • Justin Morneau didn’t get to the Midwest League until he was 20, and he only spent a half season there because he completely dominated the level.
  • Joe Mauer’s OPS isn’t exciting, but we did get a glimpse of the player he has become too. Many more walks than strikeouts, a few doubles, and a good batting average.
  • How fun would it have been to see Quad Cities play in 2002 with Mauer and Jason Kubel? You can see why so many people back then saw Kubel as a mix between Morneau and Mauer.
  • Denard Span didn’t exactly put up monster numbers, and he did miss quite a bit of time with injury. The take-away from those numbers is that he had a very nice Isolated Discipline already even though he was, like Hicks, very raw at the time.
  • Delmon Young was a beast after being taken with the 1st overall pick in the 2003 draft. Ever wonder why people still think he’ll develop a lot of power, check out those numbers!
  • Alexi Casilla was with the Angels organization, but what he did for Cedar Rapids made him the guy they wanted in a trade of JC Romero the next offseason.
  • I included international players and high school drafted players in this group. Danny Valencia hit .302/.374/.500 (874) with 15 doubles and 11 homers in a half-season with the Snappers, but he was 22 years old after spending three years playing Division I baseball. Matt Tolbert played four years at the University of Mississippi, so the Twins had him skip the Midwest League and go right to Ft. Myers.

Can we take anything away from these numbers? With Hicks, you have to love his Isolated Discipline and On-Base skills from both years. The strikeouts increased some in 2010, but he has shown some extra base power. Delmon Young, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel put up really tremendous numbers in the Midwest League, and that has translated to the big leagues eventually. Cuddyer was an extra base machine as a 19 year old in Beloit, and yet his OPS was lower than Hicks’ was in 2010, as a 20 year old. Joe Mauer has always had a terrific eye, and yet Hicks has produced significantly better IsoD while producing more extra base hits.

Of course, we don’t know what will happen. We know that all players develop differently, but I think that this quick, cursory glance at Hicks’ numbers compared to current big leaguers gives us no reason to believe he won’t continue developing and become a very good big league player.

Let’s also take a look at the Midwest League numbers of some of the other Twins hitting prospects to see how they compare:

Player Age Year Team BA/OBP/SLG (OPS) 2B/3B/HR/RBI BB/K
Trevor Plouffe 19 2005 Beloit .223/.300/.345 (645) 18/0/13/60 50/78
Chris Parmelee 19 2007 Beloit .239/.313/.414 (727) 23/5/15/70 46/137
Chris Parmelee 20 2008 Beloit .239/.385/.496 (881) 10/3/14/49 52/83
Joe Benson 19 2007 Beloit .255/.347/.368 (715) 18/8/5/38 49/124
Joe Benson 20 2008 Beloit .248/.326/.382 (708) 16/3/4/27 24/73
Ben Revere 20 2008 Beloit .379/.433/.497 (930) 17/10/1/43 27/31
Angel Morales 19 2009 Beloit .266/.329/.455 (784) 22/5/13/62 30/104
Angel Morales 20 2010 Beloit .289/.381/.474 (855) 13/7/4/36 24/65
James Beresford 20 2009 Beloit .289/.342/.313 (655) 11/0/0/38 34/70
James Beresford 21 2010 Beloit .297/.349/.363 (712) 19/5/1/59 34/56
Danny Rams 20 2009 Beloit .229/.308/.429 (737) 14/0/7/23 18/77
Danny Rams 21 2010 Beloit .243/.310/.450 (760) 28/4/16/68 31/145
Anderson Hidalgo 21 2010 Beloit .316/.375/.443 (818) 25/1/3/28 24/50
  • Trevor Plouffe put up those numbers only because he played much better in the 2nd half of the season. Good power numbers, but he could have used another year with the Snappers.
  • Both Joe Benson and Chris Parmelee struggled in their first seasons in the Midwest League. Then both got hurt halfway through their second season with the team. However, in the second year, you can see why people are excited about his patience and power potential.
  • Looking at Revere’s Beloit numbers, what a year he had. Very much batting average based, of course. But if we were to only look at OPS, his is right up there with anyone (except Morneau). And he stole 44 bases that year too.
  • Angel Morales… how/why is he so overlooked in many prospect rankings?
  • James Beresford showed good improvement from 2009 and 2010. Reports are that he has gained some weight this offseason. If he can add any semblance of power to his game, he could jump up prospect rankings quickly!
  • Danny Rams has so much power potential, but he just needs to put the ball in play more. His 77 strikeouts in 2009 came in just 175 at bats. He struck out 145 times in 407 at bats in 2010. Yet, his power numbers still make him intriguing.
  • Anderson Hidalgo may be the least known, or maybe underrated, prospect in the organization. He had another solid year in 2010.

What is the summary? There really isn’t one. There is no science to prospect rankings and we don’t know how things will turn out, but if nothing else, I believe this data shows that Twins fans should continue to be very excited about the future of Aaron Hicks.

Any thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments here. Also, for more links to Twins articles and thoughts throughout the weekend, be sure to follow me on Twitter where I like to retweet Twins-related articles and post thoughts frequently. Have a great weekend!


7 Responses to “Should Twins Fans Worry about Aaron Hicks?”

  1. mike wants wins February 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Rightly or wrongly, people are disappointed because they see Stanton or Heyward or whomever come up at a young age and look like legit MLB players, who DOMINATED the minors. If the Twins and others are going to hype this guy as one of the 20 best prospects in the game, people are going to expect to see results, fair or not, that’s what most fans are going to expect. I don’t have any idea what “most people” think. All I can say is that he doesn’t thrill me like Stanton or Heyward do just yet. He’s just not in that class of instant impact guys.

    Now, I never expected him to be, so I’m not disappointed. I’d like to see more improvement when repeating a level, that would excite me more. Clearly the guy has talent and tools. I still believe he’s going to be a MLB OF. But it’s way too early to be either overly excited or overly disappointed in him.

  2. jimcrikket February 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    I’m not sure “disappointment” is how I feel toward Hicks. I’ve seen him play a few times here in Cedar Rapids and in most of those games, particularly in 2009 and the first series here in 2010, I just wasn’t seeing what was so special about him. In fact, it was Angel Morales that impressed me the most during that first series last year. He was a stud.

    In fairness, I was also probably at least subconsciously comparing him to the Kernels’ CF, Mike Trout. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Trout was starting a season that would elevate him to the top prospect in baseball. I also thought Hicks looked much improved by the final series I saw him here in August (and it probably didn’t hurt that Trout was no longer on the same field).

  3. Keli February 19, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    As always, Seth, good column. I always feel like an apologist for my favorite prospects, but…

    I think one major difference between Hicks and Cuddyer, Morneau, Mauer and Young is that Hicks is a switch-hitter. If you look at his numbers from the natural (right-handed) side, he had a MONSTER season, with a 13/2/6/21 (2B/3B/HR/RBI) and a .449/.664/1.113 (OBP/SLG/OPS)in 116 ABs. I realize that he still has to prove he can do SOMETHING against right-handed pitchers, but he definitely has power potential. It’s also worth noting that his post All Star line was pretty impressive (.429/.459/.889), including 15 SB in 18 attempts.

    Two other oddities in Hicks’ 2010 line were that he was much better at home than on the road (OPS of .890 vs. .775) and much better during the day than at night (OPS of .956 vs .789). I have no idea what that means, but I can’t wait to see him on a Saturday afternoon at Target Field!

  4. Josh K. February 19, 2011 at 1:32 am #

    “How fun would it have been to see Quad Cities play in 2002 with Mauer and Jason Kubel? You can see why so many people back then saw Kubel as a mix between Morneau and Mauer.”

    I was the Asst GM of the River Bandits in ’02, and it was incredible to watch that team. If I remember correctly, Kubel only hit 1 HR in the first half and then exploded in the 2nd half that year. Mauer hit one of the longest HRs I’ve ever seen hit for his first of the year (unofficially, the game was rained out) WAY over the batters eye in center. He also hit everything opposite field that year (a taste of things to come). Garrett Jones hit 4 HR in a day game with maybe 500 in attendance. Jesse Crain looked like he would be the future closer for the Twins. Former NFL DB Ricky Manning also played on the team (not that great, but holy crap was he fast!).

  5. roger February 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Hey Seth,

    Twinkie Town just rated Hidalgo as our 48th Top Prospect for 2011. Personally, I thought he should have been included about 10 spots higher.

    I am like many, thinking that on the surface Hicks had a disappointing year. After all, he repeated at Beloit and didn’t put up Arcia like numbers. What is interesting, is after dropping the league discounting in my ranking formulas (I redid 2010 and will not include that in the future, in part because I now take all the data and apply to their league averages), Hicks was the second best position player in the organization. He was a ways behind Arcia and just ahead of Benson and Rosario with Angel Morales fifth.

    So as far as my analysis is concerned, he did a lot better than it appears at first glance.

  6. JoeBoo22 February 21, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    If Hicks continues to hit poorly will the Twins consider moving him to the mound?


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