Hill became the only Elk Grove Unified graduate to be a first-round baseball draft selection directly out of high school. In 2008 former Laguna Creek pitcher Casey Weathers was taken in the first round by the Colorado Rockies following his senior season at Vanderbilt University. An injury knocked Weathers out of baseball a little more than a year ago.
He also is the first Sacramento-area prepster selected in the first round since Tony Torcato was taken by the Giants in 1998.
MLB Network analyst John Hart called Hill, "the best defensive centerfielder in the draft."
|Derek Hill returning to first base during a game against Laguna Creek|
"The big question, as with many high schoolers, is how good will he be," Hart said. "How far will his bat come?"
Hill was in the MLB Network's "Studio 42" along with a handful of prospective top draft choices for the live televised selection. He and his parents sat in a mock dugout and were on camera immediately after Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced the Tigers selection.
Hill then donned a Tigers' hat and jersey, hugged his parents and went to the podium area to shake hands with Selig and members of a Detroit contingent that included former Tiger centerfielder Chet Lemon.
"It sounds so amazing," he told the live national TV audience. "I can't wait to get out there and get with the guys."
Hill also remarked how happy he was joining Detroit because his favorite player is Torii Hunter, the Tigers' current centerfielder.
Following the selection MLB analyst Harold Reynolds showed a video of Hill batting and remarked, "He can swing the bat. Hill has grown into his body over the past year. His gift is being able to get the baseball (in the outfield)."
Reynolds also called Hill the best centerfielder in high school since Hunter.
Hill is the first outfielder drafted by the Tigers in the opening round since they selected Cameron Maybin in 2005 draft.
A 6-foot-2, 195-pounder, Hill hit .500 with 11 doubles, seven triples, 29 stolen bases and 30 RBIs this past season for the Herd.
"Derek is an excellent hitter, a great defensive outfielder and has electric speed," said David Chadd, the Tigers' vice president of amateur scouting. "We're pleased to have the opportunity to add him to our organization."
Hill signed a NCAA National Letter-of-Intent with Oregon University in November, but will likely forego college because of the huge signing bonus he will be offered by the Tigers. One media source in Detroit thinks it may be around $1.5 million.
Hill is a cousin of former New York Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry and the son of Orsino Hill, a scout in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization.
Orsino played 12 years in the minor leagues as an outfielder with the Reds, Expos, Pirates, Cubs, White Sox, Athletics and Angels.