Thursday, November 3, 2011

Around the Horn: Hicks, Dozier, and Cuddyer

Hicks starting to standout in AFL
Aaron Hicks started off the Arizona Fall League by looking like he was a fish out of water. He was playing with and against players who finished last season at higher minor league levels than himself. With those challenging conditions, it could be hard for anyone to succeed and it could be especially hard for a player, like Hicks, who struggled in the second half of the season.

ESPN baseball writer Keith Law lives in the Arizona area and he had some tough things to say about Hick in the early portion of the AFL. The numbers backed up his harsh criticism of the player during those early games. It seems as if Hicks has turned a corner and that has caught the attention of Mr. Law. In a recent tweet, he was asked if he had noticed any improvements in Hicks and he responded by saying, "Yes, one of the few who legitimately looked better after week one."

In his last ten games, Hicks has looked like he belongs with some of the other top prospects in the AFL. During that stretch, he has managed .314 batting average with two home runs and nine RBI. He also manages to use his athletic ability to make some great defensive plays in the outfield and to be a threat on the base paths. This is a great sign for the Twins and it offers some hope for Hicks after a rough 2011 season.

 Dozier named to AFL Rising Stars Game
The AFL has been a traditional place for the top prospects to gather in the fall and the best place to find all of the top players is in the Rising Stars Game. The game will be played this Saturday and the Twins lone representative in the game will be infielder Brian Dozier. The beginning of the AFL saw Dozier get off to a hot start and over the course of the last few weeks, he has cooled down a little bit. He was selected to the West division team and they have a tough match-up going against the number one pick in last year's draft, Gerrit Cole.

The Twins only representative in last year's game was outfielder Ben Revere. Fans got to see a lot of Revere this season at Target Field and the same could hold true for Dozier in the 2012 campaign. Top MLB prospects Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals will man the outfield for the Eastern division team. The game, slated to begin at 5 p.m. Mountain Time, will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network from Surprise Stadium.

Cuddyer continues to be on other team's radar
Yesterday I released my offseason blueprint for the Minnesota Twins and in it I don't have the Twins retaining the services of Michael Cuddyer. The market could allow for Cuddyer to be paid a huge chunk of money and the Twins have a lot of needs to fill this offseason. With the start of free agency last night, there have been continuing stories out of other major cities that keep bringing up the Cuddyer's name.

The Denver Post wrote yesterday that the Rockies are looking to make a big-ticket deal and Cuddyer could be one of the names on the top of their list. The Red Sox could also be looking to add to their outfield this winter and the Boston Herald took a look at Cuddyer as a fall back option in the outfield. Both of these teams could overpay for the services of Cuddyer and that might scare the Twins away from making a huge offer.

MLB Trade Rumors found some source to get their hands on the official Elias rankings for free agents this offseason. The good news for Twins fans is that Cuddyer is a type A free agent and this makes offering him arbitration an easy choice. He will decline arbitration and if another team signs him, the Twins will get a first round pick and a supplemental round pick in next year's draft. The Twins already will be picking in the upper levels of each round and adding other high picks could be great for the organization's minor league system. 

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