At 30.5 feet per second, he was the third-fastest sprinter in the big leagues.
The Detroit Tigers have accomplished the seemingly impossible: they have completed a full season of exciting and not-too-bad baseball.
After a dreadful 9-24 start, first-year manager A.J. Hinch’s team entered today’s action only seven games below .500.
There are lots of reasons to be excited about the future, including centerfielder Derek Hill, who has proved he can patrol Comerica Park’s vast outfield and flashes of sheer power at the plate and on the basepaths.
Hill’s high-end isn’t spectacular, but the arrival of a game-changing feature like this is nevertheless thrilling.
He will have to work on his. To be a long-term reliable choice, 700 OPS and more walks are required. Making triples out of doubles will help a lot.
Derek Hill’s speed and defense were readily transferable to the big leagues, but his bat required some work.
Hill swiped 100 bases in each of his first four minor league seasons, but he only batted .223 with five home runs.
Hill was limited to only 251 games in his first four years due to a seemingly never-ending string of ailments.
He went to the IL three times in 2015, then twice more in 2016, including a lengthy stay near the conclusion of the season when he tore a ligament in his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.
Hill was sidelined by an arm injury until late June 2017, and he didn’t play a full season until 2018, when he hit .239/.307/.318 in 106 games at High-A Lakeland.
Hill was Rule 5 eligible that winter, but the Detroit Tigers left him unprotected as a 22-year-old with a dismal hitting record and no experience in the high levels.
His chances of reaching the majors appeared to be limited.