The Minnesota Twins had two of the top center fielders in baseball in 2012. However, with the glaring need to improve the starting rotation, its two most valuable trade assets were dealt away.
The hole left in centerfield is now one of the biggest question marks on the roster.
The Twins have three players on the major league roster battling for the position.
Joe Benson - The 6-foot-1-inch, 215-pound prospect is still a potential five-tool player. He has plenty of pop in his bat, but swings and misses far too often. He made his major league debut in 2011 and struggled to continue the solid play he had in the minors. He finished with a .239 batting average with no home runs, three walks and 21 strikeouts in 71 at-bats. He backed it up with his worst professional season to date in 2012. Poor performance and a significant injury forced him to play through all four levels of the minor leagues (triple-A, double-A, advanced-A and rookie league). He eventually finished the season at triple-A. He has power with the bat, speed on the base paths, range with his glove and a strong arm. However, he needs to be more consistent with his bat to put all the tools together. He will turn 25-years-old prior to the start of the 2013 season.
Aaron Hicks - The 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound prospect started putting all his tools together last season. He played the whole season at double-A. The Twins have been patient with him after selecting him in the first round of the 2008 season. He spent two seasons for the low-A squad before slowly advancing to advanced-A and finally double-A. Despite the less-than-stellar performance, he was the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Twins organization. He turned 23-years-old earlier in the offseason.
Darrin Mastroianni - The 5-foot-11-inch, 190-pound journeyman was claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays last spring. He began the year at triple-A, but was called up early in the season. He did not leave. He has speed and a good glove. He excelled as a fourth outfielder for the Twins. He finished the season with a .252 batting average and 21 stolen bases. He turned 27-years-old in the latter half of last season.
The Best Case Scenario
Hicks shines in spring training and plays 130-150 games. Benson also has a good spring training and is assigned to triple-A as the everyday right fielder. He becomes a viable candidate to be the everyday right fielder if Chris Parmelee struggles or moves back to first base. Mastroianni continues to provide solid depth and fills in as a pinch runner and defensive replacement at one of the corner outfield spots late in games.
The Worst Case Scenario
Mastroianni is given the job by default while both Benson and Hicks are assigned to triple-A. Mastroianni becomes the everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter.