Aaron Hicks might be the most intriguing player on the Twins roster in these early games, as we examine how the 23 year old makes the jump from the AA level in 2012 to the majors in 2013. After a home series with Detroit and an away series in Baltimore, the rookie leadoff hitter has 28 plate appearances under his belt. After hitting .370 in 79 plate appearances this spring, including 4 home runs all within a few days, Hicks’ results have not translated to the regular season.
Here is a breakdown of all 28 plate appearances for the young prospect through today. It’s been a rough start for the young center fielder, but there’s been many similarities in his at bats to those of rookies before him.
Currently Hicks’ stat line looks like this: 2 for 26 (.077 AVG), 3 RBI, 2 BB, and 11 SO. Of his 11 strike outs, 8 of those were on breaking balls. In 19 at bats where he has seen at least three pitches without putting the ball in play, only 7 of those bats did he get ahead 2-1 in the count. All other 12 of those at bats, he was down right away in the count.
Hicks has put only one breaking ball in play so far, which resulted in a weak ground ball. Against fastballs he has taken some very strong cuts, but fouled most of those back missing out on his chance to hit a ball hard. Every swing he has taken against off-speed pitches have looked like that of a guy who hasn’t seen big-league pitching before, which he obviously hasn’t.
The last thing I found interesting is that he really has only gone the opposite way twice, once resulting in a fly out, and the other in a sharp ground ball to short. There were a few pitches which he ended up swinging over the top of, and others he rolled over into weak ground balls to the right side of the infield. It seems like he’s been looking almost exclusively for fastballs trying to pull those hard. Once he learns to wait back on some of the off-speed stuff and go with outside pitches the opposite way, he will become a much more well-rounded hitter.
He clearly has a good eye at the plate from what we’ve seen this year and also his track record of walking about 80 times a season in the minors. I still think he’ll be a fantastic leadoff hitter for the Twins for years to come and will get better as the weeks go by here in 2013. If it makes you feel better, Josh Hamilton is currently 1 for 20 with 10 strike outs, and Matt Kemp is just 2-20 with 6 strike outs in the 2013 campaign. Like most young players, the breaking balls may be his crutch for a while here until he gets settled in.
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