Elk Grove’s Derek Hill closes his high school career as an MLB first-round draft pick.
By JIM McCUE | Senior Contributor
Derek Hill is an outstanding all-around athlete whose talents can lift his team while dashing the hopes of opponents. The highly-touted “five tool” player drew raves for his performance and potential all season, including a gushing endorsement from MLB Network analyst and former big-leaguer Harold Reynolds who called Hill the best high school outfielder since Torii Hunter.
The SportStars Spring Male Athlete of the Year possesses running speed, arm strength, hitting for average, hitting for power and fielding abilities. SO, is there anything he can’t do?
“He is always singing and whistling out on the field and in the dugout, but I wouldn’t characterize his musical talent as one of his strengths,” said Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson.
However, Hill’s play as a member of the Thundering Herd was sweet music to Carlson’s ears ever since arriving from Iowa as a sophomore in 2011. Hill, whose father Orsino played in the minor leagues for 12 years and is now a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, showed his baseball skills from the first day he put on an Elk Grove uniform.
Hill helped the Thundering Herd capture the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I title as a junior and compiled 114 hits in a three-year varsity career in which he hit .458, scored 73 runs, drove in 76 and stole 36 bases. But coming into his senior year, Hill inherited the spotlight as the lone starting senior for the storied program.
The ever-present scouts watched Hill bat .500 with 11 doubles, 7 triples, drive in 30 runs, and steal 21 bases to lead Elk Grove to a 26-6 record.
Hill’s ability to keep his teammates relaxed with his fun attitude was as impressive to his coach as his ability to run, hit and field. “His greatest tool is the kind of person he is,” Carlson said. “He is a great teammate and a hard worker.”
THE HILL FILES
• THE STATS: Hill responded to being the main focus of opposing pitchers with an outstanding season. He batted .500 with 11 doubles, 7 triples, and 30 RBI. He also stole 21 bases.
• SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: He went a combined 5-for-6 with a double, a run scored, and a RBI to lead Elk Grove to a pair of elimination-game wins in the SJS Div. I North playoffs.
• WHAT’S NEXT: Hill will pursue professional baseball after being selected in the first round (23rd overall) by the Detroit Tigers in the Major League Baseball First Year Players’ Draft on June 4. He’s the region’s first first-round pick since the San Francisco Giants selected Tony Torcato 19th overall in 1989.
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