What Is Broken With Aaron Hicks?

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As it stands currently, Aaron Hicks is penciled in as the Minnesota Twins opening day center fielder. While that may be off putting to some Twins fans, you would be best suited to remember that Hicks was once a first-round draft pick by the organization, and figured heavily into the long terms plans of the club. To this point, that has not worked out, now the question is why.

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Prior to his debut with the Twins as the opening day center fielder in 2013, Hicks had laid waste to much of the Double-A competition. Having been promoted directly from New Britain, Hicks batted .286/.384/.460 in 2012, his last season in the minors. He also hit 13 home runs and stole 32 bases. A center fielder who was defensively sound and fleet of foot, the game appeared to come relatively easily to Hicks.

Enter 2013.

Rather than promote Aaron Hicks at the end of the 2012 season and acquaint him to the big league game, the Twins instead left him on the farm. After dealing both Ben Revere and Denard Span, Hicks was looked to as the next man up. Heading into 2013, Hicks made a mockery of spring training, batting for average, fielding well, and looking every bit the part of a big league center fielder. Unfortunately, that narrative couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Hicks played only 81 games for the Twins in 2013 prior to a demotion to Triple-A Rochester. He batted just .192/.259/.338 and looked lost more often than not while in the batters box. 2014 saw much of the same from Hicks at the plate. Again opening the season as the starting center fielder, Hicks went on to hit .215/.341/.274 across just 69 games before a demotion to Double-A New Britain. Despite the woes at the plate, another trend seemingly played into Hicks’ struggles last season, his work ethic.

Often times, Ron Gardenhire was found asking for more out of Hicks in post game press conferences. Hicks seemed to routinely pull up short on what appeared to be catchable balls, his approach at the plate lacked polish, and reports all suggested the time being put in wasn’t adequate for success.

After a demotion to Double-A, the hope would have been that a light bulb would have gone on and that time was not on his side. Finishing out the 2014 season in the minors, Hicks actually hit an impressive .291/.387/.441 for New Britain and Rochester. Being snubbed for a September call it, the fuel was there to let the fire burn in the offseason and come into 2015 ready to hold off Byron Buxton and claim the center field position for as long as he could.

Next: Projecting Your Minnesota Twins Opening Day Lineup

Thus far over the offseason and this winter, things have seemed to regress again for Hicks. As Parker Hageman notes on Twins Daily, Hicks toiled through just 16 games with his Venezuelan winter ball team, hitting only .220/.381/.280. Eventually, Hicks was released and reports surfaced suggesting that he had rubbed players and coaches the wrong way, while work ethic issues again surfaced.

At this point, there is no more waiting. Aaron Hicks is walking on thin ice, and he has to know this. The issue is two fold at the major league level. Despite having all of the ability to compete, it will be on Hicks to put in the work and make the results reflect it. Based on his minor league track record, I’d argue the issue lies more between Arron Hicks ears than it does with his physical ability using a bat or glove. This may be the last real shot Hicks gets with the Twins and it’s time to make the most of it.

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