Player: Derek Hill
Drafted by: Detroit Tigers
DOB: 12/30/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'2", 175 pounds
School: Elk Grove (California) HS
College Commitment: Oregon
The son of Orsino Hill, a first-round pick by Cincinnati in 1982, Derek Hill has the talent to join his father as an early selection in 2014. He's an incredible athlete who already shows great baseball acumen, which isn't a surprise, given his lineage.
Hill has been dazzling scouts on the travel circuit for a long time, including at last year's Perfect Game National, where he did anything and everything humanly possible. According to Matt Rodriguez of PerfectGame.org, the 18-year-old ran the 60-yard dash in 6.44 seconds and hit 92 mph on a throw from the outfield.
There are players in this draft with more offensive upside, but as far as positional value, athleticism and all-around raw tools, Hill regularly looks like the best of the high school bunch.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Hill has an outstanding ability to hit, especially for a player his age; never looks overmatched at the plate, showing solid plate discipline, plenty of bat speed and, most importantly, a desire to hit the ball the other way; swing is short and compact, geared for a lot of line drives, so contact isn't going to be an issue against advanced stuff.
This is where Hill turns into a divisive player; has ability to hit well against advanced pitching, but there's no loft or elevation in his swing and not much more bulk to add, so the power numbers will come from his ability to run and take extra bases; enough contact to project 10 homers per season at peak, which will be more than enough, given the value Hill adds everywhere else.
Plate Discipline: 40/55
Hill already takes quality at-bats, showing a selective approach and taking pitches; some issues with pitch recognition, though nothing unusual for an 18-year-old; has to get better at reading off-speed stuff, but when you constantly barrel the ball like he does, there's not a lot to worry about.
One of the fastest players in this class, Hill has all the makings of a throwback leadoff hitter; he's not going to add much power, but he will beat out a lot of infield hits and has the foot speed to steal 30-40 bases.
In addition to stealing bases, Hill's legs allow him to cover a ton of ground in center field; has range for days, and his routes are clean and precise; so natural in center field that it's easy to project a Gold Glove or two in his future.
Making Hill even more valuable for his position is the arm strength; not an elite arm, but you don't need that to play center field.
MLB Player Comparison: Denard Span
Derek Hill is one of the few high school hitters with a high probability of reaching his ceiling, though that's not shocking since most of his value comes as a defensive wizard. He's not going to give much with the bat, though his speed could help him turn a lot of singles into extra-base hits.
When you think of elite defensive center fielders who do just enough on offense, Denard Span is the first player who comes to mind. He's a 3-4 WAR player every season because of his positional value. That's what Hill has the potential to become.
Projection: Above-average everyday center fielder on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 85 percent
Even though his offensive ceiling is limited, it's so rare to find a high school player who projects to be an elite defender in center field with so little doubt that it wouldn't be a surprise to see him popped earlier than expected.
Regardless, MLB teams know the value of having a premium defender up the middle and are likely to go out of their way to buy Hill away from Oregon. He's been around professional baseball all his life thanks to his father, so he has an understanding of how important pro coaching is to the development process.