In their recent history, the Twins gave the leadoff spot in their batting order to a raw but exciting young center fielder who was replacing an established player. This player new struggled mightily in his first two seasons — both in terms of plate discipline and overall production.
We’re talking, of course, about Carlos Gomez.
Or are we talking about Aaron Hicks?
In some ways, Gomez and Hicks were very different players in their young Twins careers with very different things which they needed to improve. But in other ways, they’re quite similar.
Hicks could be headed back to the minors soon as he attempts to straighten out his career. Gomez, now a star with Milwaukee after being traded there following his second year with the Twins, offers a reminder with the Brewers in town that the Twins shouldn’t give up on Hicks too early.
Here's a look at the two players
Scenario in which he earned CF job
Hicks: In the offseason before the 2013 season, the Twins traded both Ben Revere and Denard Span. That left a hole in center field, and after a hot spring Hicks was given the job.
Gomez: In the offseason before the 2008 season, Torii Hunter signed a free-agent contract with the Angles. That left a hole in center field, which was filled by Gomez – a prize from the Johan Santana trade in the same offseason.
Age when he started first game with the Twins
On base percentage with Twins
Home runs with the Twins
At-bats per strikeout with the Twins
Early flashes of brilliance
Hicks: Hit two home runs and made a home run-robbing catch in the same game last May against the White Sox, giving fans a taste of his potential in both the field and at the plate. Always showed great range and a good arm even when struggling offensively.
Gomez: Stole 47 bases in two seasons and scored the winning run in the memorable Game 163 in 2009 against Detroit. Always showed great range and a good arm even when struggling offensively.
Hicks: TBA. Now that Hicks is attempting to be a full-time righthanded hitter instead of a switch hitter, he likely needs more seasoning in the minors. Whether he turns a corner remains to be seen.
Gomez: Traded to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy before the 2010 season, Gomez continued to flounder until 2012, when he began ascending toward being an All-Star in 2013.