For much of the past years Major League Baseball’s amateur draft has languished in anonymity behind the much ballyhooed drafts of the NFL and the NBA.
But with the growing popularity of the MLB television network, baseball has decided to ramp up its coverage of the annual First-Year Players’ Draft. This year’s selection process begins on Thursday, June 5, in its “Studio 42” facilities with several of its top prospects in person.
One of those who will be Elk Grove High School’s Derek Hill.
Hill will be joined by just a few other prospective first-round selections at the MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. They include Clovis High School shortstop Jacob Gatewood.
To add to the color of the event, each MLB club will send a former All-Star or manager to represent them for the first few rounds of selections on Thursday.
Greg Vaughn, currently an Elk Grove-area resident and former Milwaukee star outfielder, will represent the Brewers at the draft.
Former slugger Jeffrey Leonard will represent the Giants while Ray Fosse, a part of the A’s broadcast team, will represent Oakland.
Hill led Elk Grove with a .529 batting average this season. He had 27 RBI’s and 16 stolen bases.
Just about every mock draft has Hill going in the first round. Sports Illustrated projected Hill as the 18th overall pick by the Giants. San Francisco General Manager Brian Sabean was in attendance at Elk Grove’s final home game of the regular season.
SB Nation also thinks Hill will go in the first round, but about five selections after another former Herd star, J.D. Davis, who has played first base and pitched for Fullerton State the past three years.
Baseball America ranks Hill the 33rd best prospect and Davis the 36th.
“(Hill) is plus-plus runner, “ wrote the magazine in its draft preview. “Hill is a premium defensive center fielder who has shown a feel for hitting in games.”
And it wrote about Davis: “Unsigned Rays fifth-rounder out of high school in 2011 offers power on the mound and at the plate.”
"Scouts I've spoken to believe Hill will likely be taken in the first round, but some project him as high as the mid-teens (rounds)," Rick Cabral, editor of the website, Baseball Sacramento, said. "We know Sabean was out at EG to watch him so that's an interesting angle."
"But remember last year - (Rowdy) Tellez was going as high as round two," Cabral continued. "The draft is weird and mercurial."
No Elk Grove area baseball player has been drafted in the first round right out of high school. Laguna Creek’s Casey Weathers was a first round choice of Colorado in 2008 after he spent two years at Sacramento City College and two seasons at Vanderbilt.
Weathers had an arm injury a couple years ago that forced him out of baseball.
The Houston Astros will make the first pick of the 2014 draft Thursday at 4 p.m. local time. There will be 40 rounds of selections by all MLB clubs spread over three days.
MLB Network and MLB.com will provide live pick-by-pick coverage during the first round, Competitive Balance Round A, the second round and Competitive Balance Round B Thursday night. The intervals between selections will last four and a half minutes during the first round and one minute during Competitive Balance Round A, the second round and Competitive Balance Round B.
The Competitive Balance rounds are a fairly new part of the draft that came about as a result of baseball’s 2012-2016 basic agreements with the players’ association. The Competitive Balance rounds give clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
Rounds three through ten will take place on Friday, June 6, while the final 30 rounds will be Saturday, June. 7.