Profile: OF - 6'2" - 180lbs -BT:S - TH:R - 2011 Age: 21
• Hit: 40-65
• Power: 35-60
• Eye: 55-70
• Range: 55-65
• Hands: 45-65
• Arm: 70-75
• Run: 55-65
The Twins first round pick in the 2008 draft, Hicks was one of the best regarded prep players in the country, and a two way star on the mound and at the plate. Had he not been insistent on playing the field, his mid-90s fastball likely would've had him going in the Top 10. Instead, teams passed on his bat and he slid to the Twins who took the raw but toolsy Hicks 14th overall and signed him for a 1.78m bonus.
Hicks, a switch hitter is vastly better from the right side - his natural side - where his power is much better. From the right side of the plate Hicks posted a 1.113 OPS, from the left, just .722. His swing is so much better, and so much more polished that there that it wouldn't surprise me if the Twins asked Hicks to give up swinging from the left side of the plate. If so and Hicks can handle hitting against the platoon split better than he can hitting from the left side, he could move much more quickly.
Another complaint surrounding Hicks, and this is pretty rare for someone his age, is that he's actually too selective, preferring to wait for the perfect pitch instead of attacking a good one. As a result, he tends to work himself into too many pitchers counts - though he also has one of the best walk rates of anyone in the Minors.
Beyond his raw swing mechanics from the left side and his over-selectivity, Hicks is actually quite polished. He has borderline plus speed and that, combined with strong route running projects him for plus range in the outfield. He also has the same accurate, powerful arm that made him a top pitching prospect. He has Gold Glove capabilities in the outfield. However so far, his plus speed has played better in the outfield than on the bases where his base stealing skills remain well below what his raw speed would indicate.
In most cases, this kind of data would be enough to make some good guesses about a player, but in Hicks case, it isn't. The truth is, he can rake from the right side of the plate, but for as good as he is right handed, he's almost equally bad left handed.
Against lefties in 2010, he hit .362/.449/.663
Against righties, that fell to just .248/.383/.339
I think it's pretty safe to say that how he ends up as a hitter likely wont have anything to do with how well he hits left handed pitching. What will ultimately decide his fate as a batter will be a willingness to be more aggressive (not something I'm used to saying about young hitters with high K rates) and either improve drastically as a left handed hitter, or give it up altogether.
He's a toolshed, but there are certain skills - like the plus eye, arm, and range that I feel comfortable projecting as plus right now. Defensively, he's going to play high. The question is the bat. He lashes line drives, and he's powerful from the right side but the rising K rate is concerning and I have concerns about him never mastering his left-handed stroke at this point.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.