Date: March 12, 2019
By: Eric Leary
How does a player know where they stand vs. all the competition across the country? It’s when the head of one of the nation’s top organizations says that player is “one of the best hitters in the country.” Those are Andy Partin’s words in describing Jack Hicks, the 2020 infielder out of Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, NC. Of course, Andy Partin is the founder and CEO of Dirtbags Baseball and happens to know a thing or two about top players in the nation.
And plenty of top college programs in the nation have been interested in Hicks, after seeing him perform with the Dirtbags for the past three seasons. But as a lifelong fan of the Kentucky Wildcats, once provided the opportunity to commit, Jack made the dream school his choice in August of 2017. The connection makes sense as his parents attended the university and both are from the Bluegrass State. He says when he took his visit to Lexington it was a chance to affirm his love for the school and see how Coach Mingione and his staff run the program. Following that trip, Jack says he is sure it is the best place for him.
The journey to being such a sought after prospect did come with some growth. And Jack attributes much of that to joining the Bags. He says being around amazing teammates have pushed him to work and develop as a player. He also added that, “I got to be around great coaches who know the game like the back of their hand. And they taught me things I didn’t know and it helped me grow as a player and as a person.”
One of the areas Hicks has seen his own growth has been in gaining an understanding of some of the game’s finer points. He attributes the fact that coaches have held him accountable for his mistakes as major factor in this area. One such piece of advice that was received, was to always play with a mindset to prove himself because a college coach could be watching.
Additionally, the experiences with the Dirtbags offered learning how to decode the game in finding tip-offs to a pitcher’s tendencies and gaining information from just paying attention to what’s happening.
For Hicks the work isn’t done. With more high school and Dirtbags games ahead of him, he spent the past off-season striving to improve his strength and use his lower half more effectively. Thus, he says he has seen his abilities improve in driving the ball with some power to all fields.
And it has been recognized by those coaching and evaluating the left-handed hitter. Partin remarked, “He’s got a great understanding of the strike zone. And he’ll surprise you with his power as well.”
But perhaps the most revealing factor into the junior’s abilities is how comfortable he appears while doing his handy-work at the plate. Partin continues, “He looks like he is watching TV in his living room in the box – so relaxed.” Wow! That’s putting it into perspective.
All of this development and work is hopefully leading to big things in 2019 for Hicks. For Leesville Road HS, he said his expectations are “To WIN games, compete, and make my teammates better; while I enjoy playing for my high school.”
As the spring turns to summer and he dons the Dirtbag uniform again he will appreciate those chances to once again play on the big stages like Atlanta and Jupiter in the fall. It is clear that Jack is grateful for the lifelong friendships with teammates and bonds with coaches. As Andy Partin finished, “I’m excited to work alongside Jack again in 2019. I’m expecting another great season from him.” And assuredly, so is Jack Hicks.