Alas, we come to the end. I’ve had a lot of fun writing up these prospects and doing these rankings, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. Without further ado, here’s the number 1 prospect in the system:
#1: Derek Hill, CF
Hill was taken by the Tigers in the 1st round of the 2014 draft out of high school in California. He was the first prep position player the Tigers had taken with their first pick since Cameron Maybin, all the way back in 2005. He signed for slightly over slot, and spent his debut season between rookie league GCL and short-season Connecticut. He had an ok season, production wise, but the scouting definitely overshadowed the on-field production. As with any teenage high round pick, the scouting should really always overshadow production, especially at the lowest levels.
Hill stands 6’2″, weighs in at 195lbs, and can absolutely fly. His loudest tool at present is his speed, which grades out as an easy 7. He’ll turn in some 8 times down the line, but the consistent speed is a 7. His speed really translates to the OF as well, where he gets projection 7 grades from scouts on his glove. Seriously, I’ve heard from scouts that RIGHT NOW he’s the best defensive outfielder in the Tigers’s system (which isn’t saying all that much, but you get the idea). He’ll be a true impact player with his speed and defense, at the very least. His bat projects well, but not quite to a plus level. He shows good barrel control and bat speed, but will have a tendency to drift onto his front side at times, and is simply raw at the moment. It’s a line drive swing with a whole-field approach, as well as a good ability to work the count, get a pitch he can barrel, and take his walks. Overall, it’s a future 5/6 hit projection, with the potential to hit .270-.280 at peak while also having good OBP skills. The power is not much at the moment, but he does show the ability to drive the baseball, especially into the gaps. As he gets stronger and develops the overall hit tool more, he’ll have more power. At peak, I think you could project him as a guy who hits 25-30 doubles with 10-12 HR’s or so. His speed will be an asset on the bases, with the ability to steal 30 bases annually.
Hill has the highest upside in the system for me: A true defensive impact in the middle of the diamond with plus-plus speed, hitting ability, the ability to steal bases, and some power potential. That adds up, in my opinion, to a potential all star caliber player. Even if he doesn’t reach such a lofty ceiling, his plus plus potential defensively in CF all but ensures a MLB future, even as a teenager.
OFP: 65, perennial all star caliber player. Realistic 55, above-average starting CF on 1st division team.
2015 Projection: Hill is an interesting case, seeing as he’s more polished than your typical high school positional player, but at the same time, his warts are still with the bat. The Tigers have shown a propensity to push their young prospects (Austin Schotts comes to mind), so it wouldn’t be a surprise to me to see Hill in West Michigan to begin 2015. However, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tigers take it slow with him and allow him to spend the beginning part of 2015 at extended spring training.
MLB ETA: Think I don’t think 2018 is out of the question, but 2019 is a safer bet.