Much of his action since turning professional has been at first base and designated hitter, though he has also played some corner outfield. Despite him playing very little behind the plate in 2008, that is where the organization is holding out hope that the 23-year-old can shine.
To that end, he is a catcher in the Arizona Fall League. Despite being the Cardinals taxi squad player, meaning he can only play in games on Wednesday and Saturday, Hill has received additional experience in the bullpen.
With the Peoria Saguaros, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Texan continues to do well what he does well - hitting. Hill's line in 41 at-bats over 11 games is a very respectable .293/.354/.610 (BA/OBP/SLG). He's slammed three long balls and driven in 12 while fanning 13 times.
The jury remains out regarding his catching future. In the two games I saw him play, Hill seemed to call a good game and handle his pitchers well, yet the word among scouts is that his release time is not up to major league standards.
It was an odd 2008 regular season for Hill as he didn't let his introduction to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League bother him one bit, with a .285/.339/.529 line in 46 games for the Palm Beach Cardinals. Our 40th-ranked Cardinals prospect coming into the season received the call to Double-A in May, often the most difficult step for a player, but did not miss a beat.
Yet, Hill would be stuck at 99 at-bats with Springfield when his hand was broken while hitting. When he was finally able to return late in August, there was no room in the Texas League, so Hill finished up 2008 where he began, with Palm Beach, where he had been rehabbing.
In this exclusive audio interview, Hill discusses returning from injury, playing multiple positions, his goals for 2009 and much more.
Previous AFL interviews:
Manager Ron "Pop" Warner
RHSP Adam Ottavino
LHRP Brad Furnish
LHRP Justin Fiske
OF Shane Robinson
IF Tyler Greene
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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