The Tigers may have the worst farm system in baseball, but they are three-for-three in landing someone on a top 100 list. Baseball Prospectus released their top 101 prospect rankings today, and Tigers outfield prospect Derek Hill squeezed in at number 98.
Hill did not hit well in his professional debut, getting on base at a .296 clip with a .591 OPS. There are concerns about his hit and power tools, though the former is expected to develop into an above average tool. Many view him as a leadoff-type hitter, in part because of his excellent speed and good baserunning instincts. His instincts also translate to the defensive side of the ball, where he is viewed as a potential elite talent.
Hill was voted as our #3 prospect earlier this offseason. I projected that he would begin the 2015 season with Single-A West Michigan.
The Tigers are well known for being aggressive with their prospects, especially when it comes to getting them into full season ball. Despite Hill's offensive struggles in a brief spell in the New York Penn-League last year, expect the Tigers to start him off in the Midwest League. The club was equally aggressive with guys like Austin Schotts and Nick Castellanos in the past, and I don't see any reason why they would play it more conservatively with a talent like Hill. He's still a few years away from the big leagues, but Hill is one of the few players in the minors with true plus potential.
The Tigers were universally praised for drafting Hill, an athletic high school outfielder from California who has already drawn comparisons to Torii Hunter. The Tigers are known for stockpiling low-ceiling college pitching, but Hill fell to them at the 23rd overall pick in last year's draft, and they pounced on the speedy center fielder. The organization has a decent track record with drafting elite prep players in the past; Rick Porcello and Nick Castellanos were both drafted out of high school and played significant roles in 2014, while Jacob Turner was used to acquire Anibal Sanchez via trade.
A pair of former Tigers prospects also cracked the rankings. Right-hander Jake Thompson, now with the Texas Rangers, makes his appearance on the list at 47. Shortstop Willy Adames, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays after bursting onto the season at Single-A West Michigan last season, is 94th.
Hill was ranked 85th on ESPN's top 100, while Steven Moya represented the Tigers on MLB.com's list. Baseball America releases their top 100 list on February 19th.