The New York Mets have selected right-hander Adam Hill from University of South Carolina in the fourth round:
A 39th-round selection by the Padres in 2015 out of high school, Hill bypassed the draft to attend South Carolina, where he’s been a three-year starter for the Gamecocks. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound righthander has the kind of durable frame scouts look for in starting pitchers and he’s been a workhouse at South Carolina, leading the rotation when the likes of Clarke Schmidt and Will Crowe went down with Tommy John surgery. Hill had the look of a first-round selection earlier this spring when he posted back-to-back starts with 14 strikeouts, including an electric outing against in-state rival Clemson in front of 10-15 scouts.
He’s since backed up, with a 5-5, 4.58 record though 11 starts and 79 strikeouts to 35 walks in 57 innings. When he’s at his best, Hill sits 90-93 mph with a heavy fastball, touching 95-96 and getting a plethora of swings and misses due to the pitch’s late life. Hill had starts his first two seasons where his fastball would be the only pitch he needed to record outs, but he’s made a conscious effort to incorporate both his breaking ball and changeup into his arsenal this season. His slider is the better of the two pitches, a hard, low- to mid-80s pitch with bite and some depth, but he’s shown flashes with his changeup as well, particularly to lefthanded hitters. What holds Hill back is the lack of consistency with his secondary stuff and his, at times, erratic location. Hill has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter at the next level, but he’ll need to smooth these rough edges in order to get there.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
After getting shelled by Virginia Military in his first 2018 start, Hill flirted with no-hitters against Charleston Southern and Clemson in his next two outings while striking out 14 each time. That sent his Draft stock soaring, though he hasn’t been as sharp since and missed a start in March with shoulder tendinitis. He still has a chance to become the fourth South Carolina right-hander selected in the top three rounds in the last three Drafts, following Clarke Schmidt, Wil Crowe and Braden Webb.
Hill’s best pitch is his fastball, which sits around 91-93 mph and peaks at 95. He uses his 6-foot-5 frame to create good plane and extension, and has some crossfire in his delivery that imparts running life on his heater. His changeup has been more reliable than his slider this spring, with each showing signs of becoming a solid offering when at their best.
Hill is more physical than athletic, and he sometimes struggles to keep his delivery together and locate his pitches where he wants. If he can do a better job of maintaining his velocity into the later innings, improving the consistency of his secondary offerings and commanding his stuff, he could be a No. 3 starter. If not, he might be more of a sixth- or seventh-inning reliever because he lacks an overpowering fastball or a dynamic second pitch.
Holding Charleston Southern hitless over seven innings as Hill did last weekend is one thing, but it’s quite another to silence the bats of rival Clemson. Pitching in front of a home crowd on Friday, Hill held the Tigers to just two runs on two hits, striking out 14 and walking two in route to a South Carolina victory. Tall and lean at 6’5” and 225 pounds, Hill looks the part of a major league pitcher with additional room to develop. Hill leverages his height, working downhill with clean arm action and a mid-3/4 arm slot to pound the zone with three pitches. Sitting 93-to-95 mph with sinking action and occasional arm-side tail, Hill commands his fastball to either side of the plate in the lower quadrants of the zone.
His tight, late breaking slider is a low-80s swing-and-miss pitch, and looks like a future plus offering. Hill showed advanced feel for his changeup in the outing, potentially giving him a third pitch that grades out as at least above average. Thrown with deceptive arm-speed in the upper-80s, the changeup is firm with arm-side fade, though he could stand to gain more separation from his fastball velocity. Though Hill neutralized Clemson left-handers with his changeup throughout the night, one of his few mistakes was a changeup left up and over the plate that Seth Beer punished for a home run in the sixth inning.
Despite that hiccup, Hill showed resilient composure the following inning, striking out the side in his seventh and final inning, before fist pumping his way back to the dugout. With MLB Draft is three months away, Hill is the hottest pitcher in the country and his stock could rise into Day One territory with continued dominant performances.
Mets take South Carolina's Adam Hill, big physical body, some deception there, into mid-90's at times, slider and changeup show average or better at times.
— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) June 5, 2018
Hill is a very solid fourth round, who should sign for slot money, with some good upside. He should prove to be an excellent addition to the Brooklyn rotation this time around.