Detroit Tigers: Veterans to battle for backup catcher role

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 17: Brayan Pena
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 17: Brayan Pena /
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DENVER, CO – AUGUST 29: John Hicks
DENVER, CO – AUGUST 29: John Hicks /

John Hicks

Hicks has the upper hand heading into 2018, simply because he filled the backup catcher role last season. The 28-year-old was Detroit’s primary backup catcher last season after Alex Avila was traded. He also played quite a bit of first base, filling in for Miguel Cabrera while he was injured. Overall he posted a .266/.326/.439 line with six home runs, 22 RBI and a 102 wRC+.

Hicks was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB draft. He made his big league debut in 2015, going 2-for-32 with 18 strikeouts.

The Mariners placed him on waivers after the season and the Twins claimed him. After 33 at-bats in Triple-A he was placed on waivers again. This time the Tigers claimed him. He split the rest of the season between Double-A and Triple-A, before playing in one game with Detroit at the end of the season.

Hicks started 2017 in Triple-A, hitting .269 with seven home runs and five stolen bases. He was called up for good after the Avila trade.

Hicks’ experience at first base will work in his favor as he battles for a spot on the opening day roster. Should either of the veterans beat Hicks out for the backup catcher role, he could still snag the final roster spot as a backup first baseman. Additionally, should injury befall either Miguel Cabrera or Victor Martinez Hicks is a good bet to fill in at first base.

Regardless of his role out of spring training, expect Hicks to see plenty of at-bats in the Motor City in 2018.

Next is a veteran catcher who is starting his second stint with the Tigers.