There was a second workout for Elk Grove High School sluggers Rowdy Tellez and
Dom Nunez following Thursday's 8-0 defeat of Laguna Creek. It didn't matter that
Tellez homered in the game and that Nunez had an RBI single, caught for four innings
and played shortstop the remaining three.
|EGHS Centerfielder Derek Hill|
Coach Jeff Carlson had several players go get the batting cage and roll it back onto the
diamond at Wackman Field, put up the protective screen for batting practice pitcher,
assistant coach George Mullins, and then sent the two Pac-12 bound hitters back into the cage
for a few rounds of batting practice.
The reason? There were six or seven scouts from Major League baseball clubs in the bleachers
wanting more of the two promising high school seniors.
But, there was a third Thundering Herd hitter also warming up for batting practice. It was
junior centerfielder Derek Hill. At the request of the scouts, they wanted to watch more of this
6-3, 180-pound speciman. Hill had a running catch of a line drive hit by a Laguna Creek
batter that was quite impressive. A couple innings later, Hill stroked a screamer to the centerfield
fence that for most high schoolers would have been a stand-up double. Hill stretched it
into an inside-the-park home run.
Hill has been merging into conversations amongst the pro and college baseball people alongside of
Tellez and Nunez the past couple months. He made a lunging catch of a ball with his back to the plate
in a game at Valley Christian earlier this season that had the fans buzzing for another couple innings.
Someone caught the play on video and it's been a widely-viewed clip on You Tube every since.
He also dove for a ball that saved at least two runs in the sixth inning of a 3-0 win over Stockdale
during the Boras Baseball Classic in late March.
Last season his diving grab of a falling fly ball saved a no-hitter for pitcher Dave Smith in the opening
game of the playoffs against Napa.
Now, the scouts wanted to see Hill at the bat a little more.
Actually, Hill says he's used to this kind of attention. You see, his father, Orsino, has been a professional
baseball scout for several years, the last three with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Hill actually grew up with his mother in Des Moines, Iowa, spending the past few summers with dad in
Northern California where he played on select teams. When September rolled around, he was back to
the Midwest to live with mom.
Finally in 2011, he moved to Sacramento full-time to finish high school, primarily so he could play
baseball year-round. Last summer he spent little time with the Thundering Herd because dad had him
on special showcase teams, including the Age 17 USA Jr. Nationals.
This summer Hill will be trying out for the 18-U team, just like Nunez did last summer.
"I've had a bat and a glove in my hand every since I remember," Hill said.
Right now, though, Hill and the rest of the Herd are looking every bit the most talented baseball team everyone had
predicted this spring. In the first four Delta Valley Conference games Elk Grove has outscored their opponents
by a combined score of 48-5.
And, Hill has been hitting fifth, behind Tellez in the lineup, coming through with several key hits. He says he's relished
having this chance to play alongside such highly-touted players like Tellez and Nunez.
"It's made me work harder," Hill said. "You want to stand out and I love playing with high-caliber people. Then more
people want to come see them and then they see you. Everybody gets exposure."
That definitely was noticible by the presence of all the baseball people Thursday. Hill didn't disappoint matching his older
teammates with sharp hit after sharp hit out of the cage.
But, his glove and his range in centerfield has been impressive. Hill says he has an attitude that any ball hit in his direction
he will catch.
"You've got to be agressive and if (his teammates) call you off, they call you off," he said. "If not, you got to go for it."
As far as the circus catch at Valley Christian: "I knew I had it all the way."
He has another year of high school remaining and a few athletes have been encouraging him to go out for the football
team this fall. Hill has shown in the outfield he possesses the speed and athleticism to be a quality wide receiver. He
admits he's thought about playing for football coach Chris Nixon, but isn't sure he'll give it a go.
"I played football back in Iowa and then I came out here. I also played basketball and baseball and ran track," he said.
"But, I've been focusing on baseball because that's what I came out here to do."
"I'm not thinking about playing football. I'm not trying to get hurt my senior year."
The scouts probably are pleased to hear that.