On Saturday the Detroit Tigers promoted minor league catcher John Hicks to the major league roster. He played Saturday and Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, going 5-for-10 with a home run, a double, and five RBI. Let’s take a look at his profile.
Hicks was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round in 2011 from the University of Virginia. He performed well (.312/.351/.473) at High Desert in the California League in 2012, but that’s High Desert, where pitchers went to die. The high minors were more of a challenge and he spent 2013, 2014, and 2015 bouncing between Double-A, Triple-A, and the Mariners bench. His 2016 season was spent in the Twins and Tigers systems due to waiver claims.
He did play quite well for Triple-A Toledo in 2016, hitting .303/.356/.485, his best run of sustained hitting since leaving High Desert. Entering 2017, Hicks had played in 18 games for the Mariners and Tigers, hitting .088 in 34 at-bats.
My last full report on Hicks was from the 2015 edition of the Baseball Prospect Book:
Drafted in the fourth round from the University of Virginia in 2011, Hicks is a very solid defensive catcher who has caught 47% of runners in his career. He’s refined his blocking skills and is faster and more athletic than most catchers, capable of stealing bases if given the green light. Offense is otherwise a question: he has been spotty with the bat since leaving High Desert, not showing much power and demonstrating an inconsistent approach to the strike zone. Hicks’ defense will get him to the majors in short order but most likely as a reserve, at least in Seattle. Grade C.
That’s all still valid. He’s less likely to steal than he was a couple of years ago, but the overall athleticism is still there, which helps his versatility: Hicks has actually been in the lineup at first base for the Tigers the last two games.
Bottom line: Hicks projects as a reserve catcher who can see some action at other spots if necessary. It is true that his hitting has picked up since leaving the Seattle system, and also note that he is 27 years old, the classic age for a peak season. He could stay hot for awhile, but long-term I think he’s a .250 hitter with a bit of power.