Derek Hill: First Round Pick, Still Underrated

When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide background and industry consensus tool grades.  There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.

The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what that writer would’ve seen in many of the other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and I’m in the midst of a series going into more depth explaining these grades.   -Kiley

Derek Hill, CF, Detroit Tigers (Rookie-Level GCL)

Hill went in the first round this past June (23rd overall) out of a NorCal high school, but that wasn’t surprising since his father, Orsino, is a Dodgers scout and went in the 1st round in 1982.  Derek had a big summer on the showcase circuit as a standout defender with some highlight reel plays in big events, lots of hard contact and multiple 80 run times at the Area Code Games.  Hill added some strength this spring and may have lost a step, but but also added some power to his offensive game. I grade hit hit tool as pure hitting ability, but his speed will create infield hits and prop up his stats further.

He has a simple, line-drive, gap-to-gap swing but I think he’ll slowly grow into his raw power as his body develops and into his game power a few years after that (I could be conservative with the power grades).  He should start in Low-A next spring and is a potential impact center fielder with game-changing speed and defense; that FV grade will likely be a notch higher next year. If he offered the same value but via a more traditionally-valued skill set, like corner bat with power, there’s no way he would’ve lasted so late in the draft.

Hit: 20/50, Game Power: 20/45, Raw Power: 45/50, Speed: 80/70, Field: 60/70, Throw: 50/50, FV: 50   –-Kiley

Right from the start of coverage for the 2014 draft, Derek Hill was a near lock to be a first round pick. The  athletic outfielder with baseball bloodlines has an impressive array of tools that could enable him to rapidly ascend the minor league ladder.

Hit: 20/55

Consistently makes hard contact, barreling up pitches, above average bat speed, advanced approach for someone at his age, demonstrates good patience early in the count, good pitch recognition ability, effective at making adjustments for off-speed stuff. Approach towards Center/Right-Center. No glaring holes in his swing path.

Power: 20/50

Definitely understated in pre-draft reports, displayed solid-average pop both games I saw. Present raw power is likely more a 55, but his contact oriented approach limits how much of that will appear in game situations. Very impressive power to opposite field, hitting a line drive to right center that cleared the wall, likely about 400 ft. Wiry strength and natural athleticism enables power to play above what his frame would suggest. Consistency in squaring up balls, combined with sufficient loft in swing should lead to average power in the future.

Speed: 80/70

Was not able to clock him myself, but have sources who have had him consistently around 4.05 from the right side, and has gone as low as 3.97. Flies around the bases, and displays elite speed tracking down balls in the outfield. Will likely slow down somewhat as he ages and fills out, but should still remain a Plus-Plus runner. (Note: one should consider that the difference between an 80 and 70 runner is just one tenth of a second, and that just a minor increase in size can account for that gap in time.)

Field: 65/70, Arm: 55/55

Defense aided by elite speed, which is highlighted in his very good range, shows quick reactions to balls hit to the outfield, consistently takes good routes to the ball. Despite the potential increase in size and decrease in speed, Hill’s ability as a fielder should improve with more reps and further development with the Tigers’ coaching staff.  Arm strength is a tick above average, clean arm action on throws with quick release. Gets good carry on ball when necessary, consistently makes accurate throws to the target. Not necessarily an asset, but also not a hindrance to his ability to stay in center.


I’m still surprised 21 teams passed on Hill. He has a great defensive profile and should be at least an average contributor with the bat. His poor pro numbers are partly a reflection of an unsustainably low BABIP. In a farm system depleted by trades for David Price and Joakim Soria, Hill may very well be the most promising young prospect the Tigers have. Hill will likely start next season with West Michigan, with his ascent from there being dependent on his progress with the bat.

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9 years ago

Could you add height, weight, and age to these?