Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Aaron Hicks is having a strong spring training,7-for-22 thus far with an overall line of .318/.304/.545. He is in a three-way battle with Joe Benson and Darin Mastroianni for the center field job. Hicks is obviously the guy for the position long-term, but he has no Triple-A experience so it remains to be seen what direction the Twins will go in April, for that reason as well as service time considerations.
Here is what I wrote about him in the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book plus some additional comments.
Aaron Hicks, OF, Minnesota Twins
Bats: S Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 185 DOB: October 2, 1989
2009: Grade B+; 2010: Grade B+; 2011: Grade B+; 2012: Grade B-.
After three years of enigmatic performance, Aaron Hicks took a step forward last season, putting up a solid campaign in Double-A (.286/.384/.460, 32 steals, 79 walks) and re-establishing himself as a premium outfield prospect. The tools have always been here, particularly on defense, where he shows center field range, good instincts and a very strong throwing arm. On offense, he's always drawn some walks, but had problems tapping into his power until last year. He shows a broad range of offensive skills, posting a strong .386 secondary average thanks to his combination of walks, speed, and improved power. The one thing he probably won't do is hit for a high batting average: he strikes out too much for that. Hicks still has some rough edges, but I think his progress was real enough to bump him back up to a strong Grade B.
ADDITIONAL COMMENT: Check out this nice article from twincities.com about Hicks working closely with Rod Carew.
As mentioned, Hicks has always had great tools and was also a very strong prospect as a pitcher in high school. I'm encouraged with the progress he's made over the last year, and the more I study him the more I think that the comment I wrote for the book might still undersell him a bit, particularly the part about not hitting for high batting average.
So what would you do with Hicks if you were the Twins? Would you give him the job on Opening Day, or would you find a reason to wait?