Detroit Tigers Prospect Profile: The Resurgence of Derek Hill
Former Detroit Tigers’2014 first-round draft choice Derek Hill has turned it around at the plate so far in 2019. After struggling at the dish since being drafted, Hill has made adjustments to his hitting approach to put him back on track to the big leagues.
It seemed as though coming into 2019 that this would be Derek Hill’s make or break year in the Detroit Tigers organization. Maybe that’s the reason behind his early 2019 success. Maybe that lit a fire under him. I don’t know. But whatever happened over the offseason has paid off thus far.
The 23-year-old outfielder has begun the year with AA Erie after 5 years in the lower levels of the Tigers’ farm system. While he has slowed down as of late with only 4 hits in his last 9 games, he still is hitting a decent .244/.429/.709 for the year.
His power numbers are way up from past years with 7 doubles, 3 triples, and 6 homers. That is the highest single-season home run total for Hill in his professional career and it’s not even June. That is the biggest improvement for him. He is no longer the singles-only hitter that he used to be. He has shown some gap power this offseason, which is crucial for him if he ever wants to make his way to the show. If he is able to find gaps to hit more doubles and triples, he will find his way to the majors.
He doesn’t need to hit homers with his body type, but he does need to find gaps. His 30.56 K%, second to only Brock Deatherage (33.99%) among the Tigers’ Top 30 Prospects, is alarming, but the power increase this year is hopeful for his future with the Tigers.
Hitting has been the missing piece for Hill his entire way through his minor league journey. Drafted out of high school, he has shown his plus speed and defense throughout his time with Detroit, including this diving catch to keep Casey Mize’s no-hitter alive versus Altoona on April 29. His 142 stolen bases while in the Tigers’ minor league ranks has given us a taste of the fun that is to come given that he keeps improving at the plate.
It has been a rocky road for Derek Hill since receiving a lot of hype as a first-round draft pick, but he seems to be smoothing it out here in 2019.