Minnesota's center fielder of the future is having a spring that indicates the future starts in three weeks.
If spring training games and statistics meant anything, Luke Hughes would be with the Twins instead of the Perth Wallabys or wherever. I understand that. But. BUT. Aaron Hicks hit three home runs, drove in six and scored four in yesterday's victory over the Phillies in pretend baseball. He was already knocking the ball around America's Wang, and took it to another level on Thursday afternoon. For a team and a fan base that is starved for hope, Aaron Hicks is rapidly becoming that thing to rally around, especially with Kyle Gibson's ERA creeping north of 10.00.
Yes, you should temper your expectations. As LaVelle's game story notes, Hicks completely Delmon'd a cutoff throw in the first inning yesterday. The PiPress's Mike Berardino relayed on Twitter that all three of Hicks' home runs yesterday came on fastballs. If he keeps throwing wildly and can't hit off-speed pitches, he may not make the trip north at the end of March. Even if he stays hot, the Twins have sound financial (not baseball) reasons for keeping him in Rochester for a couple months. And he still hasn't played a game in triple-A.
That said: a 23-year-old is beating the hell out of the ball. He plays at a premium position where the Twins traded away their best two players in the off-season. Aside from his bat, he has consistently been praised for having a plus (baseball term) arm, speed and defense. His competition is either banged up (Darin Mastroianni) or been much less noteworthy (Joe Benson).
The intangible thing should also be mentioned. I'm not a sentimentalist by any means, but it's undeniable that playing center field for the Minnesota Twins has a certain cachet. Denard Span inherited it from Torii Hunter who inherited it from that short, stocky guy who won Game 6 and died too young. There's a lineage there. It's increasingly likely that Aaron Hicks is the next man up. It's just a question of if he inherits it on April 1st or June 1st.