BLUF: Exciting, toolsy athlete with potential to contribute up the middle and across the board.
The Player: Aaron Hicks (OF, Minnesota Twins) – The Twins first round pick, 14th overall, in the 2008 draft, Hicks signed and debuted that summer in the Gulf Coast League. He hit .318/.409/.491 in 45 games with 10 doubles, four triples and four home runs. Hicks spent the next two seasons at Low-A Beloit, hitting .251 his first season and .279 his second year, with 43 doubles and 12 home runs combined. With High-A Fort Myers in 2011, he struggled to a .242/.354/.368 line in 122 games. In his first exposure to higher level pitching, Hicks broke out with a .286/.384/.460 line in 129 Double-A games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Midwest League 2009, Eastern League 2010), Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 185): Extremely live and athletic. Premium level athlete. Arguably the best athlete in the system. Toolsy, gifted athlete with a great body. Good strength and coordination. Body projects well.
Hit: Mixed bag. Has ability to work counts and draw walks, but not because of keen strike zone judgment or pitch recognition. Very passive approach and looks tentative in the box at times. Chases secondary pitches out of the strike zone frequently. Bat control is solid but not spectacular. Uses the whole field in spurts but gets pull happy at times. Swing as RHH is more natural than LHH. Less bat control as LHH and will swing through more pitches from that side. Will always swing and miss. Will always walk. Potential to hit at average level and continues slow progress to that end. Still raw and needs more exposure to high-end secondary stuff. Grade – 30/50
Power: Plus bat speed. Very good strength. Has legit plus BP power and must translate to games. Passive approach hinders ability to attack balls and drive them with authority. More of a line drive swing that finds the gaps. Average home-run power is in the cards and will be accented by plenty of doubles and triples. Power comes more naturally as RHH. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Outstanding arm strength. Tremendous velocity on throws with good accuracy at all times. Absolute weapon in the outfield that can control base runners from advancing. Elite. Grade – 80/80
Fielding: Easy plus defender right now and some scouts see better than that. Very good reads off the bat and routes. Easy runner that covers a ton of ground without looking like he’s exerting himself. Graceful defender. Confident. Knows the position and what he’s doing. Instinctual player. Still has ability to improve consistency in larger stadiums with a second deck. Grade – 60/60
Speed: Good athlete with graceful running motion. Doesn’t look as fast as he actually is. Better once underway and sometimes gets out of the box a little slow. Plus raw speed that plays to that level most of the time. Solid instincts on the bases and can be an occasional base stealing threat. Grade – 60/60
Summation: Tooled up. Some of the best tools in the system and a wide array that could make him a big leaguer even if his offensive development never fully comes to fruition. Can go get it in the outfield. Arm is elite and a deterrent to runners taking extra bases. Outstanding glove. Bat is coming along slowly. Has average overall power that could play more consistently with a slightly more assertive approach. Solid knowledge of the strike zone but pitch recognition lags behind and hinders his ability to attack in hitter’s counts. Potential as an average hitter with 25 doubles, 15 home runs and 15-20 steals, along with very strong defense up the middle. Potentially exciting player and above-average regular.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Passive approach is still concerning, but has easy big-league projection right now.
Future: Hicks needs more polish on offense and needs work against advanced pitching that can sequence to keep him off balance. Spending most of the 2013 season in Triple-A should polish his game and prepare him for a large role on the 2014 Twins club.