By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
While pitchers and catchers continue to play catch in Fort Myers and the batters move to hitting off the tee, we trudge on here at KFAN and continue to break down the state of the 2013 Minnesota Twins roster.
Yesterday, KFAN.com contributor Sam Ekstrom previewed the infield (CLICK HERE for infield preview) and today we move on out to preview the Twins' new-look outfield.
It was a busy off season for Terry Ryan and the Twins as they shipped two-thirds of their regular outfield out of town to acquire some pitching and reload a depleted farm system.
Denard Span: After spending the first five years of his career roaming center field for the Twins, Span was sent out east to the Washington Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Span had been a regular in the Twins lineup for the past four seasons, working his way up to be the team's lead off hitter and quickly becoming a fan favorite in the Twin Cities. Span suffered through concussion related symptoms the past few seasons and was often rumored to be on the trading block.
Ben Revere: When Span was sent to the Nationals, common understanding was that Ben Revere would slide into the full time role in center field for the Twins this season. That was until Revere was traded to the Phillies one week later. Revere was one of the Twins' "farm system guys" that worked his way to the bigs the right way and was simply waiting for an opportunity to crack into the regular lineup. Known for his speed in the field, Revere struggled to stay consistent at the plate last season hitting for a better average but failing to make much of an impact in clutch situations.
Aaron Hicks: Hicks is one of those names that most Twins fans have been hearing muttered throughout the team's farm system for the past handful of years. After reaching a plateau for a few years with Beloit (A), something clicked for Hicks last season as he put it together at the plate and began to live up to his 5-tool touting.
Oswaldo Arcia: Having split time last season between Fort Myers (A+) and New Britain (AA), Arcia had proven enough to warrant an invite to Major League camp this season. A legitimate power threat at the plate, Arcia reportedly needs to work on patience at the plate to be taken seriously at the Big League level.
2012 Left Fielders - Josh Willingham (119 games), Darin Mastroianni (25 games), Ryan Doumit (16 games), Matt Carson (15 games), Ben Revere (5 games), Chris Herrmann (2 games), Erik Komatsu (2 games), Trevor Plouffe (2 games), Clete Thomas (1 game) and Chris Parmalee (1 game)
As you can see from the list above, the left field position (and right field for that matter) was a revolving door in 2012. Ten players spent time in LF last year but heading into 2013, the starting left field position is Josh Willingham's to lose.
Blessed with an adequate arm, below average speed and above average production at the plate, Willingham posted a career year in his first season with the Twins last season.
Hitting .260 with 35 HR and 110 RBI, Willingham also took 76 walks in 2012. He also answered questions by staying healthy through most of the season, having appeared in 145 games.
With his only competition coming from Darin Mastroianni, Willingham's job should be safe if he continues to produce at the plate.
2012 Center Fielders - Denard Span (125 games), Ben Revere (39 games), Erik Komatsu (5 games), Darin Mastroianni (4 games) and Clete Thomas (1 game)
With the top two options from 2012 no longer with the team, 2013 will be the year of Aaron Hicks.
It seems like we've been hearing Hicks' name for the past five year's here in Minneapolis and this season, we will finally get an actual look at the kid. A true 5-tool athlete, Hicks will replace both Span and Revere's speed in the field, in likely an upgrade on both of them for arm strength and his power numbers should be an upgrade as well.
The only question surrounding Hicks will be whether he is ready to make the jump to the Majors having spent no time at the AAA level. Last season, Hicks hit .286 with 13 HR and 61 RBI in New Britain He also stacked up 297 put outs from center field.
If Hicks proves unprepared this spring, the job will likely go to Darin Mastroianni allowing Hicks to get more seasoning in Rochester (AAA).
2012 Right Fielders - Ben Revere (84 games), Darin Mastroianni (34 games), Chris Parmalee (18 games), Trevor Plouffe (15 games), Erik Komatsu (10 games), Matt Carson (9 games), Clete Thomas (9 games) and Ryan Doumit (6 games)
Again, the front runner from 2012 has been shipped off of this year's squad leaving a handful of players with limited experience to fill the void.
Darin Mastroianni will likely get the nod to begin the spring but surely has some room to grow at the Big League level.
Mastroianni has big league speed but there is a lot of improvement that can happen in the other areas of his game.
Moral of the story for the Twins outfield this season is this. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. 2013 may very well be the year that the Twins assess their outfield rather than excel behind their outfield.
Projected starting outfield: Josh Willingham (LF), Aaron Hicks (CF) Darin Mastroianni (RF)