Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hicks, Dozier and the AFL

When Brian Dozier got off to a hot start and Aaron Hicks an ice cold one in the first couple weeks of the AFL season it confirmed the opinions of people who think Dozier might take the Twins shortstop job next spring. It added fuel to those who have started to question Hicks status as a top prospect.

Well, the season is now over and the numbers show Hicks doing better offensively than Dozier, despite his ice cold start and never having hit above A ball. Hicks had 120 plate appearances and Dozier 119:

Hicks .294/.400/.559
Dozier .296/.358/.454

This is obviously a limited number of plate appearances, so any conclusions are at best tentative. But, as in all evaluations of minor league performance, you are looking for improvement as the season goes on. That happened with Hicks, it didn't with Dozier. If Hicks shows up in New Britain next year performing at that level, we may see him in a Twins uniform a lot earlier than anyone imagined when his season ended at Fort Myers. In any case, he seemed to confirm his status as a top prospect.

The third Twins player, Chris Herrmann, has been an outfielder/catcher but was used as a catcher in the AFL. He demonstrated why the Twins have kept his position options open. He did very well offensively, albeit in less than 60 plate appearances. So even if it turns out his defense doesn't play at catcher in the major leagues, his bat may play at a corner outfield spot. Obviously, if he can catch, he becomes a lot more valuable.

In any case, the AFL results are an encouraging sign for the Twins farm system.


Jim H said...

Actually, I am encouraged by Dozier's performance in the AFL. He made few errors, which is important for a guy with limited range and arm. Trying to determine improvement over 100 AB's or so seems a bit of a reach. His overall numbers were fine and I think that is what we should be looking for. I just hoped he wouldn't be overmatched.

Hicks has tremendous talent, but we knew that. It is nice to see that maybe the talent is turning into skills.

With Herrmann, I think I would wait and see. If he was a catcher I don't think he would be playing so much in the outfield. If he were considered a top prospect, he wouldn't have got only 50 AB's in the AFL.

I wish the pitchers would have done more in the AFL. I know none are really top prospects, but I would have liked to see more out of Pugh or Watts. At some point guys who can get well into the 90's with their fastballs, have to find some control or they remain projects rather than prospects.

TT said...

Jim -

AFL batting stats are pretty inflated. Dozier's slash numbers were all below his team's average. I agree on the limited plate appearances, but remember this is a six team league where pitchers and hitters see a lot of one another. There are real chances to adjust to exploit a player's weaknesses.

Herrmann had more plate appearances than the other three catchers on the team. I don't really think he is a "top prospect", but he will likely be at least a solid major league role player if he can catch well enough. I don't think his bat is going to hold him back at catcher.

Jim H said...

I don't think Dozier is likely a great prospect, but he could be the equal of a Jason Bartlett. A guy who can hold his own with the bat and handle shortstop for awhile. Bartlett was always overrated defensively thanks to UZR, but he was quite solid offensively. Dozier is very different defensively, weaker arm, less range but doesn't seem to make the physical or mental mistakes Bartlett did.

Now, the question is will the minor league numbers translate to the majors. It may turn out his defensive limitations will turn him into a 2nd baseman or even a utility man. I suspect the Twins expect either him or Nishioka to become the shortstop at some point this coming season. Otherwise you don't sign a 38 year old utility man. You have to go out a find a longer term answer.

I am not knocking the signing of Carroll. This is pretty typical of Ryan. He is creating some depth and competition. If neither Dozier or Nishioka come through, he has a short term answer in Carroll.

Your points about the AFL are well taken. It is too bad that most teams don't send their top pitching prospects there. The Twins especially, are pretty protective of their best pitching prospects.

Bobo Jones said...

Hicks has been known to go on streaks.

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