DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers and 2014 first-round draft pick Derek Hill have reached a contract agreement. Originally reported by Jim Callis of MLB.com Wednesday, the deal is worth $2 million in signing bonuses, which is about $50,000 more than the signing slot ($1,953,100) but below the penalty line. Hill is expected to undergo a physical prior to officially signing with the Tigers on Sunday.
Hill was the Tigers' pick going into the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, as they had their sights set on the center fielder from the very beginning. But with the exception of Nick Castellanos — whom the Tigers drafted and quickly signed in 2010 — every first-round pick since 2008 had been a pitcher, and the Tigers had not broken that trend until this year when they selected Hill.
Hill was originally committed to the University of Oregon, but the same night he was drafted Hill indicated his intentions were anything but that when the Tigers selected him 23rd overall. Wednesday that sentiment was reinforced when Hill sent out a tweet that said "Sunday is the start of my new life."
Possessing a right-handed bat and throwing arm, The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Hill hit with a .500 average in his senior year at Elk Grove (Calif.) High School and had an on-base percentage of .586 to go along with 29 stolen bases. Hill was brought to Comerica Park for a workout so Tigers Vice President of Amateur Scouting David Chadd and Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Pleis could observe Hill in a more vast ballpark.
Chadd and Pleis said the opportunity to see Hill in that setting reinforced their decision to select the 18-year-old, all while hoping no other team nabbed Hill first. "Derek (Hill) was a guy, tremendous athlete, it's obvious to see when you walk in the ballpark when you see guys like that," Pleis said on Friday. "The type of athlete he is, the way he runs and carries himself, everybody gets it."
Being spoken of as the best center fielder to come out of high school since the Tigers current right fielder Torii Hunter and possessing similarities to Austin Jackson, Hill has plus bat and plus speed capabilities with a high ability to steal bases. The Tigers had listed Hill as an 80 in regards to his fielding abilities — the highest score possible and something not often given to a draft pick — and rates 20th overall on MLB's top prospects list.
Also signed earlier this week was third-rounder Grayson Greiner, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound catcher from South Carolina. Greiner signed for his exact slot of $529,400 and carries the experience of being Team USA's primary catcher in 2013, something which the Tigers feel will give Greiner an advantage in developing himself into a major league catcher.