Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Twins nab yet another Catcher

Today the Minnesota Twins have announced that they have selected John Hicks off waivers from the Seattle Mariners.   This fills up their 40-man roster, and unless someone is traded or designated for assignment before the 5th of December, they will not be able to participate in the Rule 5 draft.  Hicks will likely start at Rochester and provide depth behind Kurt Suzuki and JR Murphy.  In other words, effectively the Twins replaced claimed Josmil Pinto with Hicks as their third Catcher in the organization.

In various Mariners' 2015 prospect lists, Hicks was ranked 18th by John Sickels (Minor League Ball) and 16th by Kiley McDaniel (FanGraphs.)   Who is John Hicks?  He is a rich man's Stuart Turner.  A defense-first Catcher but his defense is elite.  He has thrown out around half  (47%) of runners trying to steel and has been touted about his game calling and blocking techniques.  The former 4th Round selection of the 2011 Draft can hit ok.

His best hitting performance was last season as a 24 year old in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .304/.396/.522. In the first half of 2014 in the AA Southern League  (the same league as Twins' affiliate Chattannoga is playing,) he hit .296/.362/.418  in 211 PAs, which suggests that there is some potential with the bat.  For comparison's purpose, in the same leagues Stuart Turner as a 23 year old (a year younger) hit   .223/.322/.306 in the Southern League and  .171/.306/.220 this fall in the AFL.    In 2015 he had a miserable season in the PCL hitting .245/.282/.362 in 320 PAs and in his cup of coffee in the majors collecting 2 hits in 34 PAs.  On the other hand,  his success in the Southern and Arizona Fall Leagues indicates that Hicks has potential with the bat.

If he were still a prospect under my criteria (he does not qualify because he played in the majors) I would had ranked him higher than Turner (who was 28th in my 2015 list) because they are of similar age and Hicks is better on both sides of the ball.

I did mention that he managed to get only 2 hits in the majors in 34 PAs this September.  I did not mention that, even more importantly, he threw out 5 out of 10 runners in that span, like this:

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