Detroit Tigers call up 2014 first-round pick Derek Hill for MLB debut

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers are bringing outfielder Derek Hill to the big leagues, in an effort to combat center fielder JaCoby Jones’ season-ended injury.

The Tigers announced Wednesday that Hill has been recalled from the alternate training site at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, where he has been with the reserve squad since summer camp broke at the end of July. He was the No. 23 overall pick in 2014 from Elk Grove High School in California.

[ Derek Hill has highlight-reel catch. Now he must show he can really hit ]

The 24-year-old joins Victor Reyes, Jorge Bonifacio, Christin Stewart and Travis Demeritte in the outfield. Infielder Willi Castro is expected to join them in a utility role soon. Jones left Tuesday’s 12-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers in the eighth inning after being hit in the left hand by a fastball, resulting in a fracture to end his season.

Detroit is 17-16 overall with 27 games left in the shortened season, just a half-game back of the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL’s final playoff spot. The organization traded right fielder Cameron Maybin at Monday’s trade deadline for an infield prospect.

[ How the Tigers plan to adjust as JaCoby Jones’ season ends ]

In 120 games for Double-A Erie last season, Hill slashed .243/.311/.394 with 19 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs and 45 RBIs. He had 147 strikeouts and 38 walks. He hit .239 with four homers and 33 RBIs in 106 games for High-A Lakeland in 2019.

He impressed in summer camp, but general manager Al Avila elected to send him to the alternate training site. His highlight play this July came on a bare-handed catch in deep center field.

Through 477 games across six minor-league seasons, Hill has a .243 batting average, 23 homers and 169 RBIs. He has played 323 games in center field, 91 in right and 29 more in left.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content. 

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