UVa's John Hicks Proving to Detroit Tigers He Belongs in Big Leagues
John Hicks played at UVA 2009-2011
Goochland County native John Hicks is one of a growing number of former University of Virginia baseball players who have found success in the big leagues.
John Hicks has spent most of the first six years of his professional career in the minors but he has played well this season in the 26 games he's played with the Detroit Tigers.
Hicks is batting .320 with 4 home runs and 15 RBI. He was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round of the MLB draft in 2011. He is now 27 years old.
"My first taste of the big leagues with Seattle didn't go as planned but I've put in a lot of work since then," says Hicks. "Kind of changing my swing and changing my approach and it's really paid off, I'm getting more solid contact, more power, I just feel like I have a better chance in the box."
Hicks, a catcher, played at UVa from 2009 to 2011 and was a part of two College World Series teams. He batted .316 and had 24 career home runs at UVa. He was voted an All-American his junior season after racking up 92 hits including 8 home runs.
Hicks is one of 15 former Wahoos under coach Brian O'Connor to reach the big leagues. Many of those players keep in close contact today.
Hicks says, "Games that Chris Taylor has been having this year, you look and the whole message board is blowing up about how awesome he's doing and when Willy's (Tyler Wilson) is in the big leagues any of these guys, you come in and its easy to keep up with them because we're talking about how awesome they're doing."
Hicks has split time this season between MLB and Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers have played Hicks at both first base and the outfield, in addition to behind the plate, where he's caught twice for fellow Goochland County buddy, Justin Verlander.
"He has so much knowledge on these hitters," says Hicks. "And he's done it for a long time and he has his approach as far as scouting hitters and things like that. Anything I can learn from him would be a bonus."
The Tigers traded catcher Alex Avila at the trade deadline opening up a spot for Hicks. The last two months of this season may be an audition for a job in the big leagues next year.
"I try not to necessarily look at it like that, just take it one day at a time," says Hicks. "When I'm in the lineup do everything I can to prepare myself. Being a catcher there are a lot of things you have to prepare with in terms of learning those hitters on the other team and we have a big notebook of scouting reports and just try to throw myself into that and try to know these guys like the back of my hand so the pitcher can lean on me out there."
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Marty Hudtloff is the Sports Director at WVIR-TV. He joined the NBC29 sports team in October of 2003. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Bradley University. You can reach out to Marty via Email or Twitter.