As Spring Training continues to be the focus of those around Major League Baseball, previews for the upcoming season continue to run rampant. For the Twins, there is a couple different positional battles worth monitoring, but arguably the most crucial could be how the eventual centerfielder ends up playing.
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In looking at the positional battles around the AL Central, CBS Sports chose the centerfield battle as the one to highlight for the Twins. Looking at who emerges between Aaron Hicks, Jordan Schafer, and Shane Robinson, the Twins will be hoping someone can bring stability to the position before the arrival of Byron Buxton.
Here’s what CBS Sports had to say about the battle in the outfield:
"This job will likely belong to the once well-regarded Aaron Hicks, at least to start the season. Time was when Hicks regularly peppered the various top-100 prospects list, but he’s failed to hit at the highest level thus far. On the other hand, the big-league sample size is limited (just 538 plate appearances across two seasons), and Hicks is still just 25 years of age. The Twins may be frustrated with his development to date, but there’s still some upside in place.Putting some heat on Hicks will be Jordan Schafer, himself a disappointing former top prospect. Schafer doesn’t project as being especially valuable, but the 28-year-old is coming off a solid 41-game stint with Minnesota in 2014. That’s enough to earn him a good-faith look in camp.Whoever claims the job is of course merely keeping the spot toasty for top prospect Byron Buxton. Buxton, a high-ceiling, five-tool talent, profiles as a future star. However, he’s coming off an injury-riddled 2014, and the 21-year-old has logged only one game in the high minors. A call-up before the rosters expand September seems unlikely, but Buxton has the skills to force the issue."
It’s probably safe to assume that Robinson is such a long shot to factor into the starting role that he remains void of the conversation. This brings the talk down to two. As CBS Sports notes, the role is probably going to be given to Hicks, but it’s up to him to hang onto it. After starting out of the gate for the Twins each of the last two seasons, he has failed to hit enough at the major league level to hold onto the job.
This season, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Hicks could be in line for a massive jump forward, and he will need to do so if he wants to figure into the Twins long-term plans. Buxton will probably surface for the Twins prior to the end of the 2015 season, but Minnesota will be hoping for more than just a stopgap up until that point.