The Twins claimed catcher John Hicks off of waivers from the Mariners today. Hicks, 26, was a fourth round pick for Seattle in 2011. He made his Major League debut on August 29 this year, and went 2-for-32 in his cup of coffee. While Hicks has hit .280/.326/.408 in 403 minor league games, 111 of them have been spent in Triple-A over the last two years - where he's batted just .253/.295/.336.
Bernie Pleskoff produced a scouting report on September 18, calling Hicks a "defense-first" catcher.
Now a member of Seattle's big league roster, Hicks is making his presence felt on both offense and defense. His upside remains as an excellent defensive catcher, but he can also provide a spark on offense, as I recently witnessed. In a game I scouted against the Rockies, Hicks dropped a successful bunt in front of home plate on a squeeze play. He can make things happen.
If that sounds damning with faint praise, it probably is. If the best thing you can say about a player's offense is praising a bunt and saying "he can make things happen," then that player probably isn't much of a hitter.
Other notes from Pleskoff's scouting report include:
- Hicks is now more selective at the plate than he used to be
- He knows hitter weaknesses and can manage his pitchers
- "Pop time" of less than two seconds - from crouch to release
- Tools aren't impressive, but mechanics are excellent and make up for whatever he might not have in arm strength
- Projects Hicks as a solid back-up catcher for the Major Leagues
Hicks immediately steps into the void as Minnesota's third catcher. He'll head to Rochester, where he'll see a good deal of playing time until he's inevitably needed to fill a roster spot in Minnesota for a couple of weeks. At some point this season he will likely be asked to mentor Stuart Turner, provided Turner can give the organization reason to think he's ready for a promotion.
With Byung Ho Park signed and Hicks claimed, the Twins' 40-man roster is now full. If the Twins plan on being involved in next week's Rule 5 draft they'll need to make another move.