2008 ranking: #40
School: Stephen F. Austin (TX)
Became a Cardinal: Selected in the 13th round of the June, 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
Selected 2008 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)
Dustin Mattison (32): I ranked Hill similarly last year and his bat did not disappoint me. Before getting injured, the 23-year-old slugged .505 and posted a .202 isolated power at Double-A Springfield. In limited action against advanced competition in the Arizona Fall league, Hill slugged .609 with a .305 isolated power in limited action. One of the questions this time last year was if his bat would play at the upper levels of the Cardinals' system. I think Hill has answered that with an astounding yes!
The other question being asked was concerning what position he would play. The organization sent Hill to the fall league to catch and I believe he should stay there until he plays himself out of the position. As a corner outfielder/first base type, he is a pretty good prospect. With his hit and power tools as a catcher, Hill could turn into a very interesting prospect. Catchers with good power potential are not easy to find. "The King" should start the year at Double-A, hopefully, as the team's everyday catcher.
Ray Mileur (24): One of my favorite players in the organization, Hill lost about of month of playing time in 2008 because of a broken hand. He started off the season swinging one of the hottest bats down on the farm, hitting .320/.373/.582 with seven home runs in 32 games before being promoted to Double-A Springfield. In 26 games in Springfield, the versatile Hill split playing time behind the plate and in the corner outfield positions, finishing the year hitting a combined .293 with 17 home runs and 34 RBIs.
Message board community (30): There are guys in baseball known as "professional hitters". This often refers to guys who have great bats but no true position. In that context, Steven Hill may become the Cardinal version of a professional hitter. Hill has hit well and advanced quickly since being drafted in 2007. Slowed this year by injuries, Hill made up for his missed injury time by playing in the AFL where he outhit such name players as the Cardinals' own Brett Wallace.
Hill has played 3B, 1B, catcher, and outfield since joining the Cardinals organization. By most accounts he has excelled at none of these. The Cards now seem intent on making Hill a catcher in 2009. If he can field the position at even a marginal level his bat will probably allow him to stick there. If he can't, Hill should probably start researching real estate in American League cities where they use the DH.
Hill spent time at both A-Advanced level Palm Beach and AA Springfield while being slowed by injuries in 2008. He should probably be expected to start 2009 at Springfield and be promoted to AAA during the season. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (34): Since I saw him play down in Arizona, I will use that as a base for my comments. First, the good. Hill hit safely in 11 of his 13 games and his OPS of .991 (in just 46 at-bats) was the best of all Cardinals prospects in the AFL, including Wallace.
The not-so-good includes the fact that Hill played over half his games at designated hitter, not all that useful in St. Louis. He only appeared in four contests behind the plate during the two months, including just one in the final month (November). Scouts believe Hill's release is slow. To wit, in those four games, opponents attempted nine steals against him, and were successful six times. Hill also made one error in two games in the outfield.
Peoria's November 8th game illustrates Hill perfectly. Batting cleanup, he slammed two home runs and a single, driving in five. On the other side of the coin, he fanned twice. Behind the plate, Hill committed an error, allowed three stolen bases, but also gunned down a pair of runners.
We'll see if Hill can get enough time behind the plate to improve. Otherwise, he becomes a corner outfielder and as such, despite the bat, his prospect status will dim. As a result, I just couldn't rank Hill higher at this time.
To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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