Continuing this series where we look at potential stars in the making from the Commonwealth, we turn to the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle Mariners.
To put it simply, baseball has become relevant again in Seattle. The Mariners fell short of the playoffs in 2014, but only by one game. Thanks to a farm system that produced some key supporting players to franchise stars Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, the Mariners have shown that they are for real, and 2015 will give them a golden opportunity to end the second longest active playoff drought in MLB.
The Mariners seem to be well stocked at all positions, including the Catcher position, with Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre. But should the need arise, a promising young backstop awaits at AAA Tacoma-UVA alumni and Richmond-native John Hicks.
Hicks was drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 draft by the Mariners, and signed quickly enough that he got into 38 games with Low-A Clinton, batting an impressive .309.
In 2012, his first full season, he moved up to High-A High Desert and really impressed. He batted .312 with 15 HR and 79 RBIs, and while he did strikeout 73 times, he still posted a very good .351 On Base Percentage. His exploits earned him a spot on the league’s post-season and mid-season all-star teams, as well as the TOPPS Single-A All-star team.
In 2013, he did sort of level off a bit, as he batted .236 at AA Jacksonville, but still had a OB% higher than .300.
He started 2014 at Jacksonville again, looking for a chance to redeem himself, and he did. In 53 games he batted .296 and posted a .362 OB%. This earned him a promotion up to AAA Tacoma, where he finished the season. Hicks batted .277 with the Rainiers, where he finished the season, and posted a .330 OB%.
The future is bright for 25-year old C John Hicks, as well as the Seattle Mariners.