Bobby Hill: A former star infielder for the
Miami Hurricanes, Hill was originally selected by the Chicago White Sox in
the second round of the 1999 draft but held out and never signed. Hill
took a route similar to that of J.D. Drew as he signed with the
Independent League's Newark team. You would have expected Hill to excel in
this type of league and he did during the 2000 for the Bears, batting .326
with 13 home runs, 82 runs batted, 22 doubles, 9 triples,109 runs scored,
101 walks, 57 strikeouts, and 81 stolen bases in 481 at-bats.
The Chicago Cubs gambled on selecting Hill in the 2000 draft, also in the
second round, but unlike their cross-town rivals, the Cubs were able to
get Hill locked up.
Since the Cubs already have a shortstop
prospect like Luis Montanez, Hill's future will most likely be at second
base in the majors. At 5-foot-10 170 pounds, this switch-hitter Hill could
develop into a great leadoff man for the Cubs. He has a very good eye at
the plate, makes consistent contact, is willing to take walks, and runs
the bases well.
His stats were probably inflated in 2000 due to the
quality of talent he faced on a daily basis, but Hill should still become
a very good major leaguer. I don't see him stealing 80+ bases, but he will
be a dangerous threat on the bases for opposing teams. His homer total and
average will probably be within the range that he posted at Newark. You
can't expect him to have twice as many walks as strikeouts, that number
Hill posted is amazing.
Currently Hill has begun his trip to the
majors at Double-A West Tenn. Being that he was originally drafted in 1999
and had yet to face the type of competition he will in the Southern
League, I don't think it would have been that surprising to see him have
some struggles early on in the season. Instead though, Hill has gotten off
to a great start (.378, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 4 2B, 9 BB, 10 SO, 7 SB, 45 AB)
and looks like he could possibly be a starter in the majors come Opening
Day, 2002. Similar to the Yankees first base job next season, the Cubs
have a free agent to be in Eric Young at second base so it is very
unlikely they will give him a multi-year deal when the have Hill waiting
in the wings. Within a few years, the Cubs could have one of the best
young starting infield's in baseball with the likes of Hill, Montanz, and
Choi. Then consider Hill leading off in front of those players plus
Patterson, and it's possible the Cubs will finally have that young nucleus
to build a contender around.