Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gibson, Hicks might be destined for Rochester

Some of the most intriguing spring training battles for the Twins are the race for the starting center fielder job and for the last spot in the rotation. Two of the best prospects for the Twins are in the middle of these battles and they both have been putting together decent starts to the spring. Even if the rest of the spring goes great for Aaron Hicks and Kyle Gibson, they both might be destined to start the year in Rochester.

There are a few different reasons to think that the Twins will be patient with these two young players. The team isn't suppose to be contending in 2013 or maybe even 2014. This means there is no rush to get either of these men to the big leagues. They can both be given the opportunity to find success at Triple-A.

If the team waits until a few months into the season, they can control these players for an extra season. There are rules in place for players that get called up in the first couple months of the season to let them reach arbitration as a super two player. The Twins could avoid some of this hassle by letting other players take their spot on the roster until the middle part of the year.

For Hicks, he has shown a history of slow starts when he advances to a new level. He played all of last season at the Double-A level so making a two level jump could be hard on him. The team has been very patient with him up until this point and it makes a lot of sense for the club to continue their patient ways.

The Twins have been clear that Gibson will be on an innings limit this season. It is his first full year back from Tommy John surgery and it is important to be cautious with a young arm. If the Twins want to control his innings at the beginning of the year, it will be easier to do this in Rochester. They don't want a player in the major league starting rotation that has to be pulled early to keep his innings down.

While the front office might want Hicks and Gibson to get a little more experience, the manager might not be in a position to wait for the future. Ron Gardenhire is in the last year of his deal and he can't really afford for the club to get off to a slow start. He has said that he wants Hicks to have a shot to start and Gibson has a brighter future than some of the other rotation options.

With the moves the Twins have made this offseason, their farm system is considered one of the best in the game. Most of their top-level talent hasn't made appearance above the Double-A level. For now, it looks like a waiting game as these players work their way through the minor leagues.

So when will the next winning team grace fans at Target Field?

The estimated arrival time for Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, and Byron Buxton might not be until 2014 or 2015. If those players make up the core of the next winning Twins team, it might be best to still have multiple years of control over Gibson and Hicks.

There are going to be reasons to keep Gibson and Hicks with the big league team for the start of the year. However, the reasons to keep them in the minor leagues might outweigh those that are in favor of keeping them up.

The next winning team in Minnesota is a couple of years away so it makes sense to give Gibson and Hicks the time they need to develop. Especially since the Twins aren't suppose to make a run for the top of the AL Central in 2013.

So what do you think? If Gibson and Hicks earn the jobs, should they start the year in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


TT said...

I have yet to see any evidence the Twins do this with players who are ready. Mauer, for instance, was on the roster from day one. If Hicks is the best guy in center field they are going to stick him out there to start the season. Getting a few extra low-cost months from managing arbitration is not going to be a factor.

Gibson will also be in the rotation if he is ready. They aren't going to waste his time in the minor leagues. The real question is whether he is ready.

And the ETA for Sano is 2016 and Buxton's is 2017. Either of them could get there quicker like Mauer. But they could also take an extra year or more like Hunter, Morneau and Cuddyer. Sano, in particular, is likely to take longer. He has power, but his defense needs a lot of work and he still strikes out a lot.

Eric Pleiss said...

I agree with you, Cody. I would love to see the Twins take the long road with their younger players. Especially since they have a Joe Benson that likely becomes superfluous in the near future if the other prospects pan out, so they can sacrifice his service time, and appease by the fans by bringing up some future talent. Same thing with a Gibson, keep him down in AAA for half a season, limit his innings down there, and then let him go 7 innings or more when he starts, give him the real MLB experience. In his place it seems like Cole De Vries can not do much worse, and what's the difference between 65 and 68 losses anyways?