The Twins refuse to say why on earth they keep their top prospect in Extended Spring Training.
Last year, the Twins kept their top draft choice from 2007--Ben Revere--down in Extended Spring Training despite a great year in rookie ball following his draft. Revere hit.325/.388/.425/853 in the GCL in 2007 and figured to follow a common path to Beloit in 2008. That was the path many top draft picks had taken with less success in the GCL. Chris Parmalee is an example. Instead they held him back until the end of April, and only promoted him when an injury opened a spot. He went on to flirt with .400 for most of the summer and ended up hitting, .379/.429/.495/974. Leaving us all to question why they held him back in the first place. The answer the organization gave was that he needed to work on his defense in Extendeds, especially his throwing, which is his primary weakness as a player.
Fast forward to this year. The Twins again kept their top draft pick from 2008--Aaron Hicks--in Extendeds while the Beloit squad went north without him. This was even more of a head scratcher because Hicks had an even better year in the GCL than Revere, putting up a.314/.405/.491/.896 line while wowing people with his arm and base-running skills. Jake Mauer, who managed the GCL team, was quoted as saying Hicks was the best player in the whole league last year. And, unlike Revere, Hicks was a highly touted draft pick with five tools who only slid to his slot (#15 overall) in the draft because of a plethora of college pitchers in the draft. Revere, on the other hand, was projected as a third round choice and widely seen as a reach (#28 overall) by the Twins to save money.
This is not just a selfish attitude on my part--wanting to see the Twins top prospect play in a regular league. This is about what's best for the prospect. How can he develop if he's not playing against competition at his level? Clearly he's ready for the Midwest League and he needs to start playing against tougher competition to hone his skills.
I have been content to bide my time thinking maybe there's a skill they wanted Hicks to work on until a roster spot opened up. But, as Roger's weekly minor league update has shown, they've had lots of roster churn in Beloit and still no sign of promoting Aaron Hicks. This week alone, they had three openings on the roster and chose to promote pitchers instead.
Perhaps they wanted to give their 23-year old outfielders--Evan Bigley, Ozzie Lewis, Michael Harrington, and Adam Severino--a chance. All of them had had decent to great years in Elizabethton last year. In Bigley's and Lewis' case, they had such huge years in E-Town, that I wouldn't even dream of supplanting them with Hicks. But Harrington and Severino seemed marginal to me. I mean, Harrington was a 13th round draft choice as a senior out of a small college league. Why keep him in favor of the number one pick in the same year? Severino was a 26th round pick in that same draft. Again, he's no big loss. Though I'm suspicious of the Twins on this point, I can understand giving them a month or so to prove themselves.
We are now six full weeks into Beloit's season and it's clear that neither Harrington nor Severino are worth keeping while they risk stunting Hick's development. Harrington is hitting .215/.276/.346/.622. Severino is hitting .203/.295/.290/.585. These are 23 year olds in low A ball and they can't even cut it. In Harrington's case, I guess I could see giving him a half a season to develop. He did hit .272/.361/.464/.825 in Elizabethton last year. But Severino hit .243/.366.369/.735 as a corner outfielder for Elizabethton last year. He didn't cut it then and he's not 's not cutting it now. So I repeat, why are we wasting a roster spot and letting Hicks' talent rot on the vine in the process?
Will somebody from the Twins organization explain this to me, please?