Derek Hill makes it look so
In the outfield, with those
long strides and that easy glide to the ball. And the sweet stroke in the batter's
But we all know—it ain’t
Just ask the hundreds of
thousands of prep players nationwide who know first-hand how hard it is to hit .500 for the
season—including playoff games at the highest level (Division I)—or to catch, fire and nail a
runner at home with a perfect one-hopper from centerfield.
No piece ‘o cake, and it
sure ain’t easy as pie.
But that’s how D-Hill, the
Elk Grove Thundering Herd centerfielder, played the game his senior year, just like his junior
and sophomore campaigns.
“We saw numerous (future
college) Division I-type pitchers, and to hit .500 or above against those guys speaks for
itself,” notes Elk Grove head coach Jeff Carlson.
“And obviously with all the pressures he had, being slotted to be a first-round draft
pick, and to be able to perform under those extreme conditions, with all those eyes on him, makes
him the best player of the year.”
This season, while batting
third for the Herd all season, Hill hit an even .500 with 11 doubles, seven triples and 30 runs
batted in. His on-base percentage was .586 while he slugged at .765. For good measure, he stole
21 bases. He led his team to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, and if not for
a resilient Davis team, Elk Grove (26-6) may have claimed the title again this
For his three-year career,
Hill batted .458, compiling 114 total hits, 20 doubles, 15 triples and three round-trippers,
along with 76 RBI.
“Baseball talent aside—and he’s very talented—the best attribute he has is being a great guy and
very humble,” Carlson added.
His father Orsino Hill
a professional baseball scout for the Dodgers. He played 12 seasons in the minor leagues, including
eight at the Triple-A level. He knows talent when he sees it—and he sees it in his son Derek, who
was selected in the first round of the 2014 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Detroit
Tigers with the 23rd overall pick.
“Derek’s blessed with a lot of talent,” the father proudly admits. Asked to pinpoint Derek’s
greatest assets, Orsino Hill says it’s his “his intangibles—he just knows how to play the game.
He’s very athletic, but he understands the game.
“And at the higher levels, that’s what separates you.”
Derek Hill knows how to separate. He proved it at the prestigious summer showcases put on by
Perfect Game in 2013 and USA Tournament of Stars in 2012.
For two years he played
under the shadow Dom Nunez and Rowdy Tellez, two of the great high school players to emerge from
Sacramento area in a long time (Tellez was a two-time POY for BaseballSacramento, winning the
award in 2013 and 2012). Last year, Nunez was taken in the 6th Round by the Rockies
and Tellez slid to Toronto in the 30th Round due to “signability” issues.
And now Derek’s topped them both, as he’s the only local prepster selected in the First Round in
the 21st Century. It may very well be a long while before someone else can make that
Derek Hill’s proven it