Jaden Hill, Right-Handed Pitcher, LSU
If the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for a big starter but miss out on Kumar Rocker, Jaden Hill also fits the bill. The LSU Tiger could be right in the conversation with Rocker and Leiter if he would have had a spring season this year. Hill stands at 6’4” and weighs around 215 pounds, which unlike Rocker, gives him room to fill into. Some teams may actually prefer this for development reasons, with concerns that Rocker does not really have any room to grow.
Hill got off to a great start with the Tigers as a freshmen. He was the team’s best starter out of the gate pitching to a 1.80 ERA through his first two starts. However, he was then shut down due to a strain in his UCL. This is obviously the other concern with Hill.
UCL strains are never a good thing. Usually, it suggests a pitcher is more prone to Tommy-John surgery eventually. However, in today’s game, as the Pittsburgh Pirates are currently seeing, it is near impossible to predict who will or will not need Tommy-John eventually.
Hill bounced back with a strong spring before things were shut down. He made four appearances, throwing 11.2 innings while not allowing a run and striking out 17. Obviously he has big-time swing and miss stuff. The swing and miss stuff is led by his fastball which has been clocked as high as 98 miles per hour this year.
Like Fabian, Hill will rely on having a spring baseball season. He will need to come out and prove he is healthy. Also, this past spring he did walk five batters, so command may be something to watch for Hill. However, if he comes out and stays healthy for the season there is no reason Hill cannot position himself to be a potential top five pick as well.
For the Bucs, he would make sense. He has top of the rotation type stuff and has the frame that any would want in a potential ace. Hill was also a two-sport athlete coming out of high school. This is something the new regime seemed to focus on in Toronto, selecting highly athletic players. Hill also has only thrown a total of 21.2 NCAA innings, which while this could be concerning for scouting purposes, Cherington seemed to focus on drafting pitchers who had low mileage on their arms. This past draft, the club took Carmen Mlodzinski with a history of missed time, so they could like that about Hill as well.