This is the first in my series of 2014 MLB Draft profiles. First up is Derek Hill, an outfielder from Elk Grove High School in California.
6’2, 190 pounds
DOB: Dec. 30, 1995
Elk Grove, Calif.
Elk Grove High School
Hill has been mocked to the Dodgers by Keith Law (ESPN) and Kiley McDaniel (Scouting Baseball).
Slot recommended bonus: $1,980,500
Editor’s note: All information of draft prospects compiled from internet sources, scouting reports and video.
As a former resident of Elk Grove for more than half of my life, I have great interest in the Dodgers selecting this kid, mostly because I could get a lot of content from such a draft pick. I went to Laguna Creek High School, the now sad rival of Elk Grove High. Much like last year when I wanted the Dodgers to take a look at Rowdy Tellez, I’m even more excited for the possibility of the Dodgers selecting Hill.
Hill is the best pure center fielder in this draft, as he has flashed 80-grade defense and running ability. The only ways he doesn’t become a near-elite defensive center fielder in the majors is if he suffers an injury that impacts his athletic ability, or he doesn’t hit enough.
Hill’s instincts in center field are unmatched, and his speed allows him to make players other outfielders couldn’t dream of making. His 6.44-second 60-yard dash is elite. It was the eighth-fastest time for a 2014 draft-eligible prep player (clocked by Perfect Game).
The biggest question mark for him is his bat. While his swing has been described as fluid by some, there are concerns he won’t be able to produce enough offensively to be a first- or second-division starter. If he were to improve upon his average bat speed, he could be an offensive threat atop a batting order. He lets the ball travel deep in the strike zone and isn’t afraid to use his line drive stroke to go the other way. He has a good eye and could end up being more of a power threat (more doubles than homer runs) if he learns to pull the ball consistently. Also, he needs to incorporate his lower-half in his swing. He doesn’t have much of a stride and relies on his arms a lot. He isn’t physically imposing at 6’2, 190 pounds, but he has decent size and could get stronger without losing his athleticism.
There is a Dodger connection with Hill. His father Orsino (great name) is an area scout for the club. He’s also a former first-round draft pick from 1982. If those bloodlines weren’t enough, Hill is a cousin of former Dodger (and Met and Yankee) Darryl Strawberry. Make no mistake: Strawberry he is not, but he could be an impact player on defense who could hit just enough to be a starter in the majors.
And just for fun, here’s a pre-draft workout video of Hill at Dodger Stadium, with Tommy Lasorda giving him pointers. Video quality is poor, but it’s worth watching.
There’s every possibility Hill will get popped before the Dodgers select at No. 22, but if he’s there, he’d be a nice selection for the team. And don’t worry about the fact he’s an outfielder. Hill is 18 years old and likely 4-5 years away from cracking the majors. A lot can happen in that time — like Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier‘s contracts expiring after 2017, Matt Kemp‘s contract off the books after 2019 and Joc Pederson having been traded for Giancarlo Stanton.
If the Dodgers think hill is the best player available at No. 22, they will take him. He doesn’t fit the profile of former first-round hitters Logan White has selected (left-handed, polished, infielder), but there’s a lot of potential in Hill. He’s committed to the University of Oregon, but it doesn’t sound like he’s a strong commit. He could likely be had for the $1.9805 million slot recommended bonus, but I could see the Dodgers going to an even $2 million if it means signing him.
Hill is No. 3 on my big board, and I don’t see that ranking getting any lower — barring anything unforeseen. If anything, he could rise.