Former first rounder and top 100 prospect, Aaron Hicks will begin the season as the Minnesota Twins starting center fielder. Obviously this will grab the attention to any fantasy owner who follows prospects closely, and in this day and age of the internet and couch scouting, who doesn't?
Hicks's hype train isn't to the level of Tampa's Wil Myers, or Baltimore's Dylan Bundy, but that won't stop some fantasy owners from spending big or reaching early for the youngster's service in their upcoming fantasy drafts. Don't be the person in a 12 to 14 team mixed league who drops an established big leaguer for the upside of 2013 Aaron Hicks. I guarantee you will regret it and he'll be back on the waiver wire or riding fantasy pine in no time. Meanwhile your discarded, proven player, will help your competition to fantasy glory, I see it all too often unfortunately.
That's not to say Hicks will not be rosterable in certain formats. For more on Hicks's background see Craig Goldstein's write up here. In a 10 to 12 team AL only league Hicks will make a perfect 4th or 5th outfielder, especially those leagues that use OBP in place of BA. While Hicks still strikes out too much (over 20% the last two years in A and AA ball, a number likely to increase in the big leagues) he has shown a decent approach at the plate, which should allow him to reach base and provide fantasy owners with the category he's most likely to succeed in this year. Stolen bases. Last year in AA Hicks swiped 32 bags in 129 games. In 122 games the year before he was able to steal 17. He'll need to improve his success rate to be a player you can really rely on in that department, but for a later round pick or $5 in an AL only auction, his stolen base potential is worth the gamble.
That $5 figure is exactly what I paid for Hicks in a 10 team AL only auction I completed yesterday afternoon. In looking at both LABR and Tout Wars, he was auctioned off at $4 and $6, respectively. As we all know, a secured role for any young player will bring out the worst in some fantasy managers and as such I'd expect that number to increase this coming week in AL only auctions. Stick to a number you feel comfortable with, and don't go the extra dollar unless you're really in a gambling mood. In an AL only keeper, I suppose you could go the extra dollar, but more than likely you're just handcuffing his future value at that point, while also removing 2013 money from your pocket.
Let's remember, Hicks has not played a game above AA in his professional career. While the Twins did trade away both Denard Span and Ben Revere this offseason, they could still turn to Darin Mastroianni if Hicks struggles too much at the big league level. Assuming he does play close to a full season, a Will Venable type power/speed/BA season is what I'd expect. As I mentioned above, this does not exactly scream mixed league relevant. Lastly, a decent chunk of Hicks's real life value comes in the form of defense which won't help the 5x5 fantasy player, and the upside of his hit tool. Keep expectations in check for 2013.