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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tyler Hill: Catching Up With the Boston Red Sox's Toolsy Outfield Prospect

When you are young player in the Boston Red Sox’s organization, you are immediately under the microscope. So rabid is the fan base that the progress of the rosters of the various minor league teams are followed much more closely than you might expect. Not all prospects enter the system with great fanfare but can build that up as they proceed with their development. Outfielder Tyler Hill is in that boat, and having just begun his career, is about to have the spotlight shone on him more than your average minor leaguer.

The 18-year-old right-handed hitter attended Delaware Military Academy in Wilmington. As a senior, he hit an impressive .432 with six home runs and earned a place with nearby Wilmington University. However, an opportunity in professional baseball came knocking and he answered the bell.

The Red Sox made Hill their 19th-round selection in the 2014 draft, clearly enamored by the potential of the toolsy outfielder. At least one scouting report indicated the youngster checks all the boxes when it comes to his projectability as a hitter, power potential, speed, defense and throwing ability.

After signing, Hill was assigned to the Gulf Coast League. Raw players of his age are seldom rushed, and this was no exception. He got just seven hitless at-bats over four games but had his first taste of the professional game and will undoubtedly be ready to open things up in 2015.

I had the pleasure of recently catching up with Hill and asking him some questions about his career. Keep reading for more, and if you would like to follow him and see how he does in the coming years, you can also find him on Twitter.

Tyler Hill Interview:

Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: Ironically, I have always been a fan of David Ortiz. The emotion he brings to the game and the impact of his leadership he displays is really how the game is supposed to be played in my opinion. My uncle was always a Yankees fan but I loved the way the Sox worked. From the beards, to the characters that have been through the organization, those things have just always caught my eye.

How did attending a military academic in high school prepare you for a career in professional sports?: Delaware Military Academy benefited myself not only in professional baseball but just life. Self-discipline, leadership, and respect were the core values we were taught, and although some people had trouble with going through with it for four years, I looked at it in a positive way because it really did make me a better person. I can also thank my parents for that because I thought it would be a struggle going to a military high school but it wasn't too bad. I'm thankful I have a great family that guides me day in and day out.

How difficult was it to choose between starting your baseball career and attending college at Wilmington University?: My decision between Wilmington and pro ball was very difficult. Although playing at home with Wilmington would have been great, I would tell myself there's no guarantee in three years that I would be sitting in the same position I was this past June. Coach August runs the best college program in Delaware in my opinion, so it was very tough turning him down. He is a great guy and understood the position I was in. Another factor that made it tough was that when watching WU play, it looked like a big brotherhood and it reminded me of football, and being a part of that would have been a great feeling. However, I just felt like I was ready to take that big risk and start my career.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you, and what was your draft experience like?: I met Chris Calciano at a workout at All Star Baseball Academy in the fall. I introduced myself and he was throwing some batting practice, and soon after I got an email from him with a questionnaire attached. I was very excited to see this, especially because the Sox were my favorite team. It was a dream come true getting picked up by the Red Sox.

The draft process was honestly stressful for me from hearing different numbers and rounds I was projected and things along those lines; I was sort of lost. The first two days of the draft were miserable, but when I heard my name called on that third day, it was like the days before never even happened. The pure joy on the faces of my family really captivated me on that day. I was so excited to get things started.

What is your favorite moment from your first professional season with the Gulf Coast League?: Without a doubt my favorite moment from my first year of professional ball was winning the GCL championship. Despite myself getting hurt and not being able to play much, I have never been a part of something like that, especially at this level. You could definitely tell that we were gonna finish the year out on a high note. Everyone had each others’ back and you could feel that brotherhood-like atmosphere all around the facility.

What is the one part of your game that you hope to improve on the most?: I will always look to improve my game in all aspects, but I just need more repetitions in the outfield so I can feel more comfortable since this was my first full year out there after being a catcher all my life.

Who is one pitcher from any time in baseball history that you would like to face, and how would you approach the at-bat?: I think I would like to face Mariano Rivera, one of the greatest of all time. I would probably just think middle and look for a single because there's most likely someone in scoring position and that run is probably huge, but I wouldn't try to do too much and would stay within myself.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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