In a move that was made because of the dire need of outfield depth in the centerfield for the upcoming road trip, the Minnesota Twins have promoted outfielder Clete Thomas from Triple-A Rochester. The move wasn’t made because of anything to do with Aaron Hicks’ performance as of late—which has been much improved—but instead was made as a precautionary move to allow Hicks an occasional off-day from time to time.
Minneapolis Star Tribune’s LaVelle E. Neal III even reported that he has seen Hicks with consistent ice on his ankle after games, which may indicate that Hicks is beginning to tire and is in need of an occasional rest. Hicks, so far this season, has played in 50 out of the team’s 54 total games which shows how heavily the team has leaned on Hicks this season. The Twins are currently in a risky slot because they have nobody to start in centerfield if Hicks were to take a day off or suffer an injury due to Wilkin Ramirez’s concussion; thus, the team decided to promote Thomas.
So far this season, Thomas has hit .296 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs for Rochester. While Thomas’ stats may indicate that he deserved a promotion, Thomas’ history at the majors indicates that this is a wasted move for the Twins. Last season, with both Detroit and the Twins, Thomas hit a combined .143 with four hits, one homerun, four RBI, zero walks and a discouraging 16 strikeouts over 28 at-bats. For his career, Thomas is a .246 hitter with nine HR, 52 RBI, 47 walks and 119 strikeouts over 419 at-bats.
The reason this is a wasted move for the Twins is because Thomas has proven his is very strikeout prone and he hasn’t been able to improve on that at any point in his career. When the Twins saw the high strikeout numbers from Hicks at the beginning of the year, they were able to chalk it up to inexperience; but Hicks has shown improvement over the past few weeks and is demonstrating why he belongs in the big leagues. Thomas does provide another option in centerfield for the Twins, but why waste a promotion and corresponding 40-man roster move on a player who strikes-out way too much and not on a prospect that could benefit from the experience of the promotion like Antoan Richardson who is 5’8, very fast, hitting .302 this year with 19 hits, zero HR, seven RBI, 21 walks and 14 strikeouts over 63 at-bats?
To me, Richardson provides much more upside and a prototypical top or bottom of the order hitter who can be solid defensively and hit for average. If the player is only going to be promoted to be a backup to Hicks in centerfield, it might as well be a guy who can play a solid centerfield and could use the experience at the majors and not a guy who has already had his chance and has proven he can’t do much with it.
It’s a minor move and I know it very well will make little difference or impact to the Twins over the next few games, but I struggle to see the logic behind the Twins decision to promote Thomas over Richardson. Soon, Ramirez will be healthy and this debate will be obsolete; but until then, the Twins are going to get what they have always got out of Thomas—who is now their only backup if something happens to Hicks—which is limited defense and high strikeout totals. Not the best move for a team trying to claw their way back into contention.