51. Cameron Hill – Right-handed Pitcher
Born: 05/24/1994 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 185 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right
Facts & Info: Hill was selected by the Indians in the 17th round of the 2014 Draft out of Redlands Community College (OK). He started his collegiate career at Seminole State College in Seminole, Oklahoma and then transferred to Redlands Community College as a sophomore where he became just the third player since 1983 to be drafted out of the school. Last season, he finished ranked 5th in the Carolina League in lowest batting average against for relievers (.245), 3rd in K/9 (9.2), 2nd in BB/9 (2.2) and 3rd in fewest baserunners per nine innings (10.45). These numbers piggybacked a strong 2015 campaign where he ranked 2nd in the Midwest League in lowest batting average against among relievers (.173) and 4th in K/9 (10.7).
Stuff: Hill is a rapidly improving pen prospect who has a solid three pitch mix and commands the baseball well. He has some arm strength with a solid average 90-92 MPH fastball that flashes plus at 95 MPH with good life through the zone. His fastball plays up because of how aggressive he is with it and how he shows above average command of it. He keeps it on the edges of the plate and to the bottom of the zone to generate a good amount of groundballs and avoid home runs. His best secondary offering is an average curveball that he can spin well with some slurvy action to it. He has worked to add more power and bite to it by adjusting the grip of it, which has pushed it to a near above average offering and a legit big league offering that can keep hitters off his fastball and get some swing and miss by getting hitters to expand below the zone. He’s really developed a lot of confidence in the curveball and is able to command it a lot better than he did in his pro debut. He also mixes in a changeup that he has a good feel for and a lot of confidence in to throw for a strike in any count, and has the potential to be an average offering for him.
Delivery & Intangibles: Hill has a lean build packed with a lot of athleticism that allows him to repeat his delivery well, make quick adjustments and field his position well. The Indians like his clean arm action in his delivery, though there is a lot of effort to it which limits his ability to pitch deep into games and is why he is being developed as a reliever. He has a knack for avoiding the barrel and limits hitters to a low hard hit percentage and limits big damage (7 HR in 188.1 pro innings). He has shown incremental improvement in his pitch sequencing over his short pro career which has helped him show more consistency. He is very determined, grinds it out and has no fear to pitch in any situation. He is just a competitor who brings a laser-like focus when he steps on the mound and is very tough-minded, bears down when he is in a tight spot, shows a lot of heart and is just aggressive where he goes right after hitters.
Focus: The Indians worked a lot with Hill last season to narrow down his pitch mix and get his delivery to a better spot. He wanted to throw all of his pitches at one time and didn’t know how to properly sequence his pitches, and along the way he and the Indians realized he can be very successful just as a fastball-curveball pitcher. Early in the year he wasn’t using his curveball much which in turn impacted the effectiveness of his fastball as hitters were jumping on it. With the improvements to his delivery, pitch sequencing and curveball usage, his stuff took a decided step forward. Now, the Indians want him to continue to work on refining his curveball to make it a true weapon he can use to put hitters away. Also, they want him to continue to develop his changeup and command his fastball with a little more consistency. He no doubt has enough fastball to play up in the big leagues, but the Indians need to make sure he can command it to all four quadrants where he can move it around and not miss over the plate which is what happens when he gets hit. His passion can work against him as things can speed up on him at times, so he needs to do a better job of remaining in control and staying with an even keeled approach.
Future: With the Indians trading away two of their top relief pitching prospects in Ben Heller and J.P. Feyereisen at the July trade deadline last year, the Indians needed a right-handed pen arm to step up to help fill some of the void. Hill did that last season both with a great statistical showing and a strong year of development in the bullpen. He has been a very good performer so far in his career and that along with his significant strides have vaulted him onto the radar when it comes to relief prospects to keep an eye on. His aggressive mindset, good fastball-curveball combination and ability to put the ball on the ground makes him very interesting. He profiles as a middle reliever but if the curveball continues to improve there is a chance he could become a good backend arm in a setup role. He should open the season as one of the key pieces in the Double-A Akron bullpen.
Ranking History: #68 (2016), #63 (2015)