Derek Hill shouldn’t be forgotten. The Tigers drafted him twenty-third overall in 2014 for a reason. If it wasn’t for a couple of big injuries, he’d be talked about as a top prospect in all of baseball. He’s still only twenty-one. He still has a lot of time. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Derek to talk about his journey so far in the minors. Here’s what he said:
Let’s take it back to draft day, how’d it feel getting picked in the first round?
Hill: “It was the best day of my life to know that all of that hard work paid off and that I was about to be given the opportunity to do what I love so much. It’s what I’ve dreamed about since playing my first game.”
How’ve the minors treated you? Any good stories from A ball?
Hill: “It is definitely a grind, but at the same time there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. When you wake up in the morning and you’re excited for the day that’s all you can ask for. For stories, I have seen monkeys, goats dang near anything you can named run across the outfield which is always entertaining.”
Hill: “On dogs.”
How was your recovery from your quad injury and then Tommy john? Do you feel 100% now?
Hill: “Yes sir. It was definitely more a mental then physical struggle just because I wanted to be out on the field with my boys. But it made me a better player and helped me understand the game in a way that I never saw before.”
Glad to hear that. What would you say your strengths and weaknesses are as a player?
Hill: “Strengths I’d say defense and all around base-running. My weakness would probably be power But even my strengths I need to keep working on just because you can always be better. You need to get better because someone is always coming for your job.”
How do you feel about Detroit’s sports culture? Recently, there’s been a lot of investment in the lions, tigers, and red wings. Is Detroit becoming a sports city?
Hill: “Absolutely. The city of Detroit has a lot of things to be excited about in the future through all sports. I know for myself I am very excited to be a part of the Tigers organization and hopefully soon be a part of Detroit and see that City recapture it’s place as one of the premier sports cities.”
Who’s the favorite pitcher you’ve faced in the minors? Most difficult? Most unique?
Hill: “That’s a tough one because there wasn’t really anyone that I felt more or less comfortable with. I just try to go out there and stick with my game plan. Some days, they are better than me, and other days I would be better than them.”
Anything specific your coaches asked you to work on during the off-season?
Hill: “Honestly I just have to get my weight up a little bit so I can endure my play style. I am a very aggressive player that likes to put his body on the line for his teammates.
What’s it been like playing across three different levels?
Hill: “That mean you see a lot of the same guys from the previous levels so you have some familiarity. But you also get to look back and see how you’ve grown and see how your friends and your competition have grown so it’s definitely an experience.”
Do you look at stats at all?
Hill: “Not really but I mean every now and then everybody does.”
What was your favorite team growing up?
Hill: “Honestly the Cardinals just because of Pujols and the twins because of Torii Hunter.”
Finally, what’s your goal for this coming season?
Hill: “Just stay healthy. That’s my only goal. Everything else will take care of itself.”