Just about every MLB Draft analyst out there had the Detroit Tigers zeroing in on a hard-throwing reliever or a power bat as Round 1 approached on Thursday night. The Tigers veered off course instead, taking talented CF Derek Hill, from Elk Grove H.S. in California.
The MLB.com scouting report on Hill:
Orsino Hill reached Triple-A as an outfielder and now scouts Northern California for the Dodgers. One of the best 2014 prospects in his area also happens to be his son. Derek Hill is one of the fastest players and best defensive players in this year’s high school class. He ran sub-6.4 60-yard-dashes on the showcase circuit this summer, and he glides around center field. He also has a solid arm, stronger than most at his position. An Oregon recruit, Hill has offensive potential as well. With his wheels, bat speed, line-drive swing and mature approach, he should have no trouble hitting for average. He also displays some gap power, with the potential for perhaps more once he adds strength.
Detroit’s outfield situation has become more and more of a headache at the big-league level, with Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson both struggling badly this season, and Andy Dirks on the DL.
There are a few potential talents on the horizon, like Tyler Collins (who came north with the Tigers after spring training), Daniel Fields and Steven Moya. None appear to be sure-fire stars, meaning that Detroit definitely needed to upgrade there at some point.
Conventional wisdom pointed the Tigers toward a college reliever in this draft, despite their usual avoidance of such players. The team’s bullpen has struggled and there were multiple Round 1 arms who were considered close to being ready for an MLB shot. One such player, Louisville’s Nick Burdi, was still on the board when Detroit landed on the clock.
The Tigers’ front office passed on him for Hill, who could become the future in center field. A look at some of his film:
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