Tag Archives: Aaron Hicks

Prospect Reviews: Season in Review Part 2


Back in January and February, I reviewed 30 minor league prospects, and made some predictions. With the season over at the Minor League level and nearly over at the Major League level, I figured now was a great time to look back at how I did. I posted my thoughts on the first 10 prospects yesterday, and will continue with 10 more today.

Christian Friedrich (COL)

In January, I predicted that Friedrich would start the season in AA for the Rockies, and post the following line: 9 – 5, 2.75 era, 165 innings pitched, 190 strikeouts, 55 walks. His actual line: 3-6, 5.05 era, 87 1/3 innings pitched, 78 strikeouts, 35 walks. Friedrich missed a fair amount of time during the season due to injury, which clearly nobody loves. He did average nearly a strikeout per inning, but clearly this wasn’t quite the performance the Rockies were looking for. I think that honestly he will return next season to AA to start the season.

Desmond Jennings (TAM)

Tampa Bay is notorious for taking it extremely slow with their prospects, and Jennings is no exception. He was not called up until right around September 1st, and clearly much later than the All Star break like I had thought. My prediction: .285/.365/.450, 5 homeruns, 35 rbi, 35 stolen bases (Majors – 3 months). He hit .278/.362/.393 with 3 homeruns, 36 rbi, 37 stolen bases in 109 games in the minors. He’s extremely likely to be the starting left fielder or right fielder to begin next season in Tampa, and should be a decent fantasy outfielder.

Jason Heyward (ATL)

What else is there to say about Heyward at this point? He’s going to be at worst top-2 in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, and hit .285/.400/.472 with 18 homeruns, 71 runs batted in, and 10 stolen bases in 133 games. I thought he would not make the team out of Spring Training, and was nearly right on with some of the numbers anyway: .285/.370/.470, 6 homeruns, 10 stolen bases in 80 games was my prediction. Heyward is going to be one of the best outfielders for years to come.

Starlin Castro (CHC)

Back in January, I figured he might get a call up to AAA after spending a majority of the year at AA. Oops, guess I didn’t know exactly what the Cubs would do. They called up their top prospect in May, and he definitely disappoint. In 116 games, he hit .304/.350/417 with 50 runs scored, 3 home runs, 41 runs batted in, and 9 stolen bases. The power and fielding seem really likely to improve, and even the speed has gotten better over the length of the season.

Aaron Hicks (MIN)

Hicks came into the season as the top prospect for the Twins, and he really hasn’t done a lot to keep that ranking for next season. He posted a decent line (.279/.401/.428) with 27 doubles, 8 homeruns, 49 runs batted in, and 21 stolen bases. My prediction was pretty close (.280/.360/.430, 25 doubles, 8 homeruns, 25 stolen bases), but I thought he could do that at High-A. Instead, he repeated Low-A again this season, and it concerns me that they felt no need to promote him even at the end of the season.

A.J. Pollock (ARI)

Pollock had a completely lost season, as he missed the whole season with an injury. I think that once he’s back to playing next year, the predictions I made then could very well be similar.

Martin Perez (TEX)

It was a bit of a lost season for Perez as well, but I have to remind myself he is still just 20 years old. At AA, I thought that he would post the following line: 7-7, 3.30 ERA, 140 IP, 130 strikeouts, 45 walks. His actual line: 5-8, 5.96 ERA, 99 2/3 IP, 101 strikeouts, 50 walks. His FIP (4.24) indicated he pitched slightly better, but he definitely took a step back from the previous season. I think he’s very likely to start 2011 back at AA, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he still was promoted to AAA.

Brian Matusz (BAL)

With Matusz, I clearly underestimated how bad the Orioles’ offense would be this year. My prediction in January had Brian posting this line:  12-8, 3.75 ERA, 175 IP, 160 strikeouts, 45 walks. His actual through late last week: 8-12, 4.59 ERA, 162 2/3 IP, 126 strikeouts, 59 walks. I was a bit optimistic on his strikeout rate, and his walks as well. But I’ll be really interested to see what he does next year with the improvement the team has shown since hiring Buck Showalter.

Domonic Brown (PHI)

I thought Brown would not be above AA this year, and would have a great line: .290/.375/.500, 17 HR, 75 RBI, 25 stolen bases. He got a call up to AAA after 65 games, and ended up with a midseason callup as well due to some injuries in the Phillies outfield. He hasn’t really gotten a lot of consistent playing time, but he’s going to be a solid outfielder for the Phillies in 2011.

Daniel Hudson (CHW/ARI)

I really think that the White Sox blew this one. Hudson has been nothing short of amazing since being slotted into the Diamondbacks rotation, and has been much better than my original prediction: 5-5, 3.85 ERA, 110 IP, 95 strikeouts, 28 walks. His actual line: 7-2, 2.49 ERA, 86.2 IP, 79 strikeouts, 25 walks. Hudson really looks like he will be a solid #2/#3 starter going forward, with the potential to be a #1 starter if everything falls right.

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Prospect Reviews: Midseason Review – AA, High-A, and Low-A


Yesterday, I went over the prospects currently in the Majors and AAA that I reviewed back in January and how their seasons have progressed to this point. Today I’ll be focusing on the players at the levels below AAA.

Note: Each of these players are listed under the level that they are currently at, but will include their stats at all levels. All statistics are through Saturday’s games, and courtesy of Baseball Reference.

AA

Jenrry Mejia (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 2 0 0 0 2.70 3.1 5 2.400
Majors 30 0 2 0 3.25 27.2 17 1.590

Mejia was finally sent down to the minors to be lengthened out to start after his appearance on June 2oth. Of course, in standard bad luck fashion, Mejia was injured in his second start down at AA, and has been shut down from throwing with no return date set as of yet. He strained his right posterior cuff, which seems like it would be pretty bad for a pitcher. However, his name is still being mentioned in potential trade talks that the Mets are having, and I am wondering if he could still be moved despite the injury.

Jordan Lyles (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 15 6 5 0 2.60 22 85 1.168

Lyles was recently named to Baseball America’s midseason prospect All Star team, and has pitched extremely well so far this season. Back in May I wrote that I thought he might get a cup of coffee with the Astros’ AAA affiliate at the end of the season, but I think that the prospect might be better served by staying at AA the whole season through, and starting 2011 at AAA. He won’t turn 20 years old until after the season this year, and still looks like he has a very good chance of being with the big club at the start of 2012. One of the few high level prospects in the system for the Astros.

Trevor Reckling (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 2 1 0 0 2.45 7.1 10 0.818
AAA 14 4 7 0 8.53 69.2 46 2.139

The numbers tell the story so far for Reckling, who struggled so much with the Pacific Coast League that he was sent back to AA on June 27th. I am wondering if the initial struggles led to some confidence issues for him, as his walk rate at AA ballooned completely out of control (50 walks to 46 strikeouts). While his walk rate has never been super low, this was high even for him. Hopefully he will be able to clean himself up in AA and return to AAA before the end of the season.

Christian Friedrich (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 12 1 5 0 5.34 64 57 1.531

Looking at Friedrich’s numbers, he’s been a bit homerun prone compared to his previous years, especially when you consider that he gave up only 3 in 14 starts in the hitter friendly California League, but has already given up 8 in just 12 starts in the Texas League. The strikeouts are down, but are still a very solid 8 per 9 innings. I wrote back in May that he had missed more than a month of starts with an elbow injury, so this could definitely be causing him some trouble still.

Martin Perez (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 15 3 4 0 5.46 64.1 68 1.617

Perez is still having a bit of a problem with the walks, as he is now at 4.81 per 9 innings for the season. Looking at his FIP (3.97) tells me that he’s probably due to get a few more breaks and overall lower some of these numbers back into the range we all expected of him during the preseason. One thing I am liking is the fact that on the season his groundball rate is at 50%, as I think that if he can translate that with his strikeout rate he will continue to excel long-term. His name has come up briefly in trade rumors for the Rangers, but I think they would be better served keeping him than moving him for a short-term rental, even if it would help them this season.

Kyle Drabek (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 17 8 8 0 3.20 107 80 1.224

Drabek is fresh off of throwing a 9 inning no-hitter for New Hampshire last week, but his ERA doesn’t tell the whole story. His FIP is at 4.19 on the season, and at least part of that is related to the 45 walks he has issued already this season. He only issued 5 more walks in 50 more innings last season, so that raises some concerns for me. He isn’t brutally far away from his career rate of 3.4 per 9 inning, but it leads me to believe that there could be a regression of sorts here. The Blue Jays have exactly no need to hurry him, so I think he’ll spend the whole season down at AA, and start next year at AAA.

Brett Lawrie (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
AA 83 .295 .358 .473 53 6 41 22

Lawrie has hit pretty well so far, and the speed is something I really like to see out of him.  He has been making errors at 2B at around the same rate as last season, but that’s not a huge surprise considering he is still learning the position really. He’s been mentioned as a player that the Mariners would love to acquire from the Brewers, but unless the Brewers get back prospects for a different position I am not sure how exactly the Mariners are going to go get Lawrie.

Chris Withrow (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 16 3 4 0 4.69 80.2 76 1.500

Withrow’s numbers haven’t exactly been making anyone talk him up so far this season, but there is hope for the season. In June, he posted a 3.44 FIP over 29 innings with 28 strikeouts, but a disconcerting 17 walks. So far in July his FIP is 1.85 (small sample size of course). The key that I see is that his homerun rate appears to be normalizing, as his HR/FB rate is at 8.8% for the year, but was up over 12% coming into June. Look for him to be left at AA through the season, and if he pitches well in August potentially getting a call to AAA.

Casey Kelly (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
AA 15 1 3 0 5.05 62.1 55 1.652

Kelly is another prospect who isn’t pitching as badly as the numbers indicate. So far, he has had BABIPs of .389 (April), .366 (May), and .379 (June), but FIPs of 2.47, 4.66, and 3.52 respectively. With the exception of the month of May (4.33 per 9), his walks have been pretty much under control, and the strikeouts remain right around 8 per 9 innings. He’s going to see some growing pains undoubtedly as he continues to adjust to only pitching, but I think he’ll be just fine by the end of the season as well. The Red Sox have no opening for him in the rotation any time soon, so I am wondering if he could be moved potentially as the key piece to acquire a short-term player.

High-A

Derek Norris (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 43 .243 .408 .375 28 4 22 4

Norris missed substantial time with injuries early on in his season, but has not hit quite at the same level as was expected back in the preseason. The one number that really jumps off the page to me is his OBP (.408). For the season, he now has 37 walks to go against 36 strikeouts, an excellent rate. He’s going to start hitting better with a walk rate like that. It is also telling to me that the Nationals announced that Bryce Harper would start his professional career as an outfielder, and with Norris being their most advanced catching prospect essentially locked in. He probably won’t be up until 2012, but if he is a solid offensive catcher and an excellent defender, that will definitely be enough.

Eric Hosmer (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 80 .351 .428 .548 46 7 48 11

Apparently the Lasik worked. Hosmer has been hitting everything he sees, and I have to imagine that he’s going to be moved up to AA at some point in the next month. Even his walk-to-strikeout rate has improved over his previous seasons (41/33 so far). Hosmer seems likely to be much higher up in the rankings at the end of the season.

Tony Sanchez (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 59 .314 .416 .494 31 4 35 2

For some reason, I thought Sanchez would have shown more power at this point, but the batting average and on base percentage are both really nice regardless. Interestingly, his caught stealing rate is only at 15% on the season. I am wondering if that could have something to do with the idea that only the real speedsters are generally allowed to run in the minors, and as such are going to show that much more success. Overall, I think he will probably see a little bit of time at AA before the season is out, but there is no real reason for the Pirates to rush him.

Jaff Decker (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A+ 41 .229 .315 .401 15 5 23 2

Decker missed time earlier in the season with a hamstring injury, and I am wondering if there are some other parts of that injury that may still be affecting Decker’s hitting.  He also appears to be very impatient as well, as he has struck out 49 times in only 41 games, but also only walked 18 times. He should be destroying the California League offensively, but he will probably stay down there for the rest of the season and potentially start next season there as well if his hitting doesn’t improve.

Jacob Turner (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
A 11 2 3 0 3.67 54 51 1.148
A+ 2 0 0 0 8.59 7.1 7 2.045

Turner was recently promoted to High-A, after pitching pretty well in the Midwest League. The control has been excellent, with 51 strikeouts against only 9 walks there. He is still only 19 years old, and I think he’s going to spend the rest of the season at High-A. That still seems pretty advanced to me for a player as young as him.

Low-A

Shelby Miller (Writeup)

Level G W L SV ERA IP K WHIP
A 13 2 3 0 4.20 49.1 65 1.338
AAA 51 .246 .283 .365 17 4 28 3

Miller has been dominating the Midwest League, striking out almost 12 batters per 9 innings. Back in May, I wrote that I thought he would spend the full season at Low A, but I think that if he continues to pitch as well as he has to this point, he’ll get a call to either High-A or AA. The interesting thing at this point is that his name is also being bandied about in trade rumors, as he is considered to be the highest upside prospect in the Cardinals’ system right now.

Aaron Hicks (Writeup)

Level G AVG OBP SLG R HR RBI SB
A 76 .260 .372 .407 50 5 34 11
AAA 3 2 0 0 2.37 19 26 0.842

Hicks is repeating the Midwest League, after only playing part of the season in 2009. His slugging percentage and on base are both higher than last year, but not substantially. He had a poor month of May, but both April and June have been solid months where he posted OPS higher than 800 in each of them. I’m not entirely sure what happened in May, but I want to see what he does in July before just assuming he is back.

Finally, a last word about the 30th prospect I reviewed, A.J. Pollock (Writeup) of the Diamondbacks. Here’s what I wrote back in May:

Pollock was to start the season at High-A, but injured himself trying to make a sliding catch in the outfield. The diagnosis was a fractured growth plate in his arm, and will miss at least half the season. Look for him to spend the remainder of this season at Single-A when he does return from the injury.

As of today, he still has not made his debut for the season,

How Are They Doing? Part 3


Today I’m covering the last of the offseason prospect reviews, and see how they are doing so far this season. These stats are through Monday’s games

High-A

Eric Hosmer (KCR): 31 games, .409/.492/.582, HR, 21 RBI, 17 R, 4 SB, 19 walks, 4 strikeouts

I wrote back in January that he would hopefully improve after having Lasik surgery towards the end of last season. To this point, that appears to have been a major portion of what was causing him problems. I think that if he continues at a rate close to where he has been so far this season, he could see a promotion to AA before the end of this season.

Jordan Lyles (HOU): 6 starts, 35 IP, 2-2, 2.83 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 31 strikeouts, 9 walks

[update] As the commenter below noted, he’s actually in AA, and has been all season. Actually makes me think better of him already, as he could potentially see a cup of coffee at AAA this season.

Lyles has continued his strong 2009 season with a strong showing so far at High-A. I think he’s probably going to be promoted to AA by midseason at the latest. He is still fairly young for his level, but I think that he’s unlikely to struggle, at least initially. The Astros are going to be extremely happy with him if he keeps this up.

Tony Sanchez (PIT): 27 games, .306/.417/.510, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 19 R, 17 walks, 26 strikeouts

Sanchez was widely viewed as an overdraft last year by the Pirates, a pick based more on signability than necessarily talent level. Sanchez is playing well to this point, but the only concern I have at this point is that he may be a little old for the level. He’s 21 this year, and after going to college it seems like he probably should be at AA. If he continues like this, I think he’ll be there shortly though.

Derek Norris (WAS): 1 game, 0-2

Norris has missed all but one game due to injury so far, and until he plays again, I’m not entirely sure what to make of him. Of some concern is the fact that the Nationals are extremely likely to draft top prospect Bryce Harper in the June draft, and worry that Norris could end up losing his path to the Majors. If he hits, they’ll find somewhere for him, and realistically Harper will probably not be ready to be in the Majors until 2013 at the soonest. Norris will need to show that he can improve to keep moving forward.

Single-A

Jacob Turner (DET): 4 starts, 16 2/3 IP, 0-0, .378 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17 strikeouts, 3 walks

So far so good for Turner, as he has posted an excellent strikeout rate and walk rate in his 4 starts this season. I think he’s going to be in Single-A for the majority of the season, and potentially might get a late-season promotion to the Tigers’ High-A affiliate. He is still only 19, so I could see it being potentially good for his development to let him adjust to the travel and lifestyle of the minors as well.

Shelby Miller (STL): 6 starts, 23 2/3 IP, 0-2, 5.32 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 41 strikeouts, 9 walks

Miller has been a bit of a mixed bag so far, as he’s allowed a LOT of hits so far but also struck out a ton of hitter as well. I think he probably spends all season at Single-A while he works on both his hit rat and his walk rate. But the strikeouts are a good sign for the future.

Aaron Hicks (MIN): 28 games, .294/.421/.441, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 23 R, 5 SB, 23 walks, 28 strikeouts

Another good young player being developed by the Twins, I think that he will probably get a promotion to High-A or even AA before the season is over. Probably around midseason if he continues to hit and walk at the rate he has been to this point I imagine.

A.J. Pollock (ARI): Has not played yet

Pollock was to start the season at High-A, but injured himself trying to make a sliding catch in the outfield. The diagnosis was a fractured growth plate in his arm, and will miss at least half the season. Look for him to spend the remainder of this season at Single-A when he does return from the injury.

Jaff Decker (SD): Has not played yet

The only information I can find so far is that Decker was in extended spring training as of April 12th, dealing with a minor hamstring injury. Beyond that, I’m not sure what is happening with him at the moment. A hamstring injury is probably a bad thing to hear for the potential of Decker to steal bases.

Prospect Review – Aaron Hicks – OF – MIN


Baseball Reference.Com Profile
Fangraphs Profile

The Basics
Bats: Switch
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#14) of the 2008 amateur draft by the Twins
Age: 20

Statistics

2008 – Gulf Coast Twins (GCL – Twins Rookie Ball) – 45 games

  • .318/.409/.491
  • 4 HR, 27 RBI, 12 stolen bases
  • 28 walks, 32 strikeouts
  • .372 BABIP

2009 – Beloit (Midwest League – Twins A-ball) – 67 games

  • .251/.353/.382
  • 4 HR, 29 RBI, 10 stolen bases
  • 40 walks, 55 strikeouts
  • .307 BABIP

Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (MIN – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (MIN – 2010) –  5 star
John Sickels – #1 (MIN – 2010) – B+

Analysis

Hicks was drafted in 2008, and immediately sent to the Twins’ rookie league team upon his signing. Hicks was drafted to play CF, but was also a highly touted pitching prospect as well. He hit very well, posting a .318/.409/.491 line, which was partially backed by a .372 batting average on balls in play.

Hicks has not as of yet shown a whole lot of power in the minors, only hitting 40 extra base hits in his 2 seasons. That said, he was only 19 when the 2009 season ended. He should develop power as he continues to mature.

Hicks is really known for two main things: his speed, and his plate discipline. He posted a 14% walk rate in both seasons, a very respectable rate. His strikeout rate appears to be a bit high (21% in 2009), but that number should also improve over time.

His speed does not appear to be an elite tool (like Desmond Jennings or Carl Crawford), but should translate to somewhere between 20 and 30 stolen bases on a consistent basis.

2009 was a bit of a disappointing season for Hicks, as his BABIP appears to have regressed to the norm. (.251/.353/.382). His plate discipline didn’t appear to really suffer though, as he was still walking at a 14% clip.

Based on his skill set, I believe that he can stick in CF if that is where the Twins eventually need him. He appears to have a good throwing arm, and a solid range out there.

Outlook

Hicks appears to be a very high-ceiling prospect. I am not 100% sold that he will develop a lot of power, but should be good for 40-50 extra base hits a season, to go along with 20-30 stolen bases and a .270-.290 batting average. I am really looking forward to seeing the Twins sending him to a full-season league this year, preferably their High-A affiliate.

Prediction for 2010

.280/.360/.430, 25 doubles, 8 homeruns, 25 stolen bases

Expected ETA

I am envisioning him not getting to Minneapolis until 2013. That progression would allow him to spend a full season at High-A, AA, and AAA prior to getting to the Majors. That would still only put him at age 23 when he gets there.

Tomorrow’s Prospect Review: A.J. Pollock (OF) of the Arizona Diamondbacks