The Minnesota Twins have named prospect Aaron Hicks as their starting center fielder for Opening Day, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino, who tweeted this Sunday afternoon:
Aaron Hicks wins cf job, gardy confirms. Mauer "happy for him ... He had a great spring."— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) March 24, 2013
Hicks, who is ranked as the Twins' fifth-best prospect by Baseball America, has had a terrific spring while battling Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson for the center field job.
In 17 games this spring, Hicks posted a line of .304/.359/.607, with four home runs and 15 runs batted in.
That performance picked up where Hicks left off at Double-A New Britain in 2012, where he hit .286/.384/.460, with 13 home runs and 61 RBI. He also showed great speed, stealing 32 bases in 44 attempts.
The choice for Hicks in center field is a good one by the Twins, who are looking to rebuild after back-to-back 90-loss seasons. He immediately fills the top-of-the-order void created by the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere this winter.
With an ability to get on base (.379 on-base percentage in five minor-league seasons according to Baseball-Reference) ahead of middle-of-the-lineup bashers Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham, Hicks will have plenty of opportunities to score runs in 2013.
The 23-year old Hicks has been highly regarded this winter, showing up 72nd on Baseball America's list of top-100 prospects, and 98th on a similar list on MLB.com. He has the potential to be a bright spot in what may be another long season for Twins fans.