MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Speedy Hill flying up Draft boards

Speedy Hill flying up Draft boards

Derek Hill's speed always has been apparent. Now he's flying up Draft boards just as quickly as he flies around the bases and the outfield.

With the First-Year Player Draft barely a week away, no position player has as much helium as Hill, a center fielder from Elk Grove (Calif.) High. Projected as a likely second-round selection coming into 2014 and early in the spring, he now could factor in the middle of the first round.

Hill's most obvious tool is his well-above-average speed. He has recorded sub-6.4-second times in the 60-yard dash, and his quickness allows him to be a disruptive force on the bases and track down balls from gap to gap.

The Oregon recruit is more well-rounded than most speedsters. Hill has a quick, sound right-handed swing, understands the strike zone and should grow into at least solid gap power once he fills out his 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame. His throwing arm is strong and accurate as well.

"His swing has gotten better and he's getting stronger," an area scout said. "He could be a Gold Glove center fielder. He's going to go pretty good."

Hill also exhibits advanced baseball instincts, no surprise considering that he has grown up around the game. His father Orsino played 12 seasons in the Minors, topping out in Triple-A, and he now scouts Northern California for the Dodgers. Hill is in his father's area and Los Angeles owns the No. 22 pick, which could make things interesting -- if he lasts that long.

"He's quite the athlete," a National League scouting director said. "Of all the athletic guys, Monte Harrison and Michael Gettys and Marcus Wilson, he might be the best athlete of all of them and I give him the best chance to hit. He can really play center field, he's a 70 runner [on the 20-80 scouting scale], he can throw. If you hit on the bat, he could play for a long time. He'll be a good-sized guy in three or four years, so he could have average power, too."

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