Twins' Hicks Finding Himself

Outfielder coming into his own

MINNEAPOLIS—He has been the Twins' center fielder of the future for more than four years now, sometimes feeling like a prisoner of his prospect status. He has grown from a raw teenager to a knowledgeable, confident 23-year-old man, feeling more like a veteran every day.

He's feeling like a major leaguer, actually. Aaron Hicks understands that reaching baseball's top level takes patience, but that's the hardest talent to master.

"Yeah, I feel a little anxious," said Hicks, who finished the best season of his career at Double-A New Britain, batting .286/.384/.460 with 13 home runs. "I just have to remember what I did down here, and try to compete every day."

He might compete for a spot in the Twins' outfield next spring, and while Minnesota's conservative policy of developing players makes it likely that the team's 2008 first-round pick will open the season at Triple-A Rochester, he knows that the time for living up to his potential is nearing.

"I'm figuring myself out. Before you get to the big leagues, you've got to know yourself, and I feel like now I know myself as a player," Hicks said. "If I had said that when I was 18, I'd probably have said I'm a power guy who's going to hit 40 bombs. But when you've been in the organization a few years, you figure yourself out."

He figured out that he's a plate-discipline guru, someone who has offset his 100-plus strikeouts with roughly 80 walks for three straight seasons.


• Tyler Grimes, drafted in the fifth round out of Wichita State in 2011, will try to move to catcher next season, after committing 28 errors in 96 games as an infielder for Beloit in 2012.

• The Twins, who chose second in the 2012 draft, finished the season with the worst record in the American League for the second consecutive season, but it will earn them the fourth pick in the 2013 draft. The Astros, Cubs and Rockies all finished with fewer wins in the National League.