Showcase | Story | 6/15/2013

Hill stealing the show at National

Matt Rodriguez        
Photo: Perfect Game

MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Hill dove headfirst into the Perfect Game rankings at the Metrodome today. That’s not a figure of speech, either. Hill’s incredible diving catch in right-center field today at the Perfect Game National Showcase that took away a sure extra-base hit got everyone asking, “Who is Derek Hill?”

Far from an unknown (currently ranked No. 61 in PG's class of 2014 rankings), Hill is a gamer on the diamond who models his play after All-Star outfielders Torii Hunter and Adam Jones.

Torri Hunter is probably my favorite outfielder and then Adam Jones at the dish is pretty electric,” said Hill of his favorite big-leaguers.

Someday there may be a kid who models his game after Derek hill, who seems to make improbable catches look pretty routine.

After Hill made noise today with his outfield acrobatics, it looked like just about every scout in the stands took out their pens and circled Hill’s name. One scout, however, wasn’t surprised at what he had witnessed. Los Angeles Dodgers scout, Orsino Hill, Derek’s father, has seen even better catches made routinely by his son.

He’s a Gold Glove guy and what I thought was, ‘Okay, now they’ve seen what I’ve seen,’” said Hill’s father. “It was one of his good catches, but, trust me when I say this, I’ve seen better."

It was a pretty good catch, but I got a little more in the bag,” said the younger Hill, also responding to the catch.

He mentioned his popularity on YouTube, where he has a good collection of videos displaying his finest moments in the outfield. He was right. The catch today was good, but he’s made even better ones.

The one against Valley Christian,” Hill said of his most memorable catch. “It was a 1-1 game and it would’ve been a triple into the gap and I just laid out for it.”

Hard to admit coming from a guy who spent 12 years in the minor leagues, covering the grounds in right field, Orsino had a different answer to the question.

I had to admit, one catch he made in the Scott Boras tournament I was like, ‘I couldn’t make that catch.’ A lot of my scout co-workers were there and a lot of cross checkers and national guys, and they were like, ‘That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen.’

He was in the right-center field gap and he went to the left-center field gap and he caught it backhanded about two inches off the ground, laid out.”

I wanted to put myself on the map officially because I’ve been going to different tournaments, but I haven’t gone to any PG (showcases),” Hill said, doing his best to keep a straight face, still excited about his performance over the last three days.

Not only did Hill display his range, he also showed he has outstanding tools with the glove and the bat. Hill ran a 6.44-second 60-yard dash, was clocked throwing 92 mph from the outfield, and took a 93 mph fastball to the right-center field gap for a stand-up triple in his third and final game.

Baseball is in the bloodlines. Not only did Orsino play professionally, but Derek is also cousins with eight-time all-star and four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry.

Hill has received great guidance and support from his family throughout his years on the diamond, but it’s the advice that Orsino has been able to give Derek from real-life experience that is invaluable.

The thing that I tell him (Derek) every day is, ‘Just go out and play. It’s a beautiful game,” Hill's father said. “Don’t get wrapped up in anything but enjoying to play.’

What I tell Derek is, ‘Enjoy the game, at the core you have to enjoy what you do. Don’t fall in love with the lifestyle. Don’t get distracted by the attention.’ I played 12 years, and I blinked my eyes and it was over.”

The benefits of coming from a family with a strong baseball background have also helped Hill get notice from his dad’s favorite team and current employer, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Derek has been coming to our pre-draft workouts since he was 15,” said Hill’s father. “Tommy (Lasorda) loves Derek.”

The stage is set, and all the stars are aligning for the young Derek Hill. It is very realistic to imagine that someday Hill will be roaming the outfield of Dodger Stadium, wearing the Dodger blue and white. Whether or not that happens, Hill will be protecting someone’s home turf from extra-base hits like he did at the Metrodome.

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