By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Growing up, Detroit Tigers first-round draft pick Derek Hill idolized five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter. Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said he sees similarities between Hill and Hunter.
“There are similarities between Derek’s style with when Torii came out of high school,” Chadd said on a teleconference Friday. “I think there’s some similarities to Austin Jackson. The one thing that first caught my eye watching Derek, and I told him this when he came to the workout, is his style of play. He really loves being on the field, he’s got a lot of energy, he’s always running, not to mention the dynamic tool set … I don’t like comparisons, I don’t think they’re fair at a young age, but I certainly see similarities.”
At least in part, those similarities are by design. Hill, who plays center field, said he did his best to emulate Hunter at every turn as a young player.
“Ever since I was little, I pretty much just wanted to be him,” Hill said Friday. “I wore his number and all that stuff. I watched every single one of his games, and I just tried to do what he did, and then when I’d be asked questions, I’d try and answer them like he did. So he’s pretty much been my idol since I was 6.”
The Tigers took Hill with the 23rd overall pick Thursday, and while power is still an area in which Hill needs to improve, Chadd detailed plenty of other reasons to like the young outfielder.
“You start with his defensive ability,” Chadd said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen instincts like Derek has on the field and his ability to play center field, his first-step quickness, his lateral range. For me he’s got an average to a tick above average throwing arm. He’s got hit ability … He’s a gap-to-gap player right now. I think power will come. We did see raw power at Comerica Park, which is a big part to gauge for a high school hitter. And certainly his speed … He brings everything now other than the power, which I think will come. And he’s just a very exciting player to watch. I’ve seen a couple videos of Derek on YouTube of plays he’s made last summer that were just unbelievable.
“He’s just an electric player,” Chadd concluded.
Hill does have another option, having committed to play at the University of Oregon, but he sounded sold on going pro.
“I’m always going to have to talk it over with my parents and my adviser, weigh out the pros and cons of college and the pros and cons of pro game, but we’re definitely feeling really strong about the pro side of it now,” Hill said, “and we’re definitely wanting to take it to the next level.”