Hilliard climbing ranks in Rockies system

Former 15th-round pick no longer under radar after two big years

Hilliard climbing ranks in Rockies system

Sam Hilliard may have flown a bit under the radar after being selected in the 15th round of the 2015 Draft, but after another strong season, Hilliard is starting to climb his way up prospect charts.

"Sam Hilliard is starting to make waves externally, as he should," Rockiers director of player development Zach Wilson said. "We knew this guy, even just coming into our organization two years ago, he had a chance to be a five-tool type of player."

Hilliard, who began the year as the Rockies' No. 30 prospect, has vaulted himself up to No. 19, in large part because of his continued development as a hitter and an emphasis on using the whole field.

"This year, he showed that, at least to the public world," Wilson said. "We knew that, internally, this was going to start to show and it certainly did in just about every way this year."

After tying for the most RBIs in the Class A South Atlantic League with 83 in his first full season in 2016, the 23-year-old followed it up with another big year in 2017.

Hilliard slashed .300/.360/.487 and hit a career-high 21 homers in 133 games with Class A Advanced Lancaster. When he wasn't showing off his increased power, Hilliard was impressing with his speed, which he used to set another career high with 37 stolen bases.

"This is a guy, people don't realize he's 6-foot-4, but he's also a 60-runner and he's got natural power," Wilson said.

Hilliard still has room for growth and needs to refine his approach as he's struck out in 26 percent of his at-bats in his young career. However, he has improved each season and is certainly trending in the right direction.

"Sam Hilliard is a guy that's on people's radars now, but I think the more he plays, the more he's going to show up on people's screens," Wilson said.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.