Rule 5 Notables: Nick Hill | The Process Report

Rule 5 Notables: Nick Hill

Name: Nick Hill
Organization: Seattle
Position: LHRP
Age on Opening Day 2011: 26
2010 Stats: 42.2 IP, 37 SO, 18 BB, ~3.93 FIP (Triple-A)

Why he’s available: The Mariners added a ten-pack of names to their 40-man roster, which doesn’t speak well for Hill, but his upside appears limited to a situational reliever.

What he offers: Dave Cameron wrote about Hill last offseason:

His fastball is back in the 86-90 range, and while he doesn’t light up radar guns, it has serious sink to it. He’s posting a 56% groundball rate this year, just barely down from his 57% mark he’s put up as a professional. It’s a nasty two-seam fastball that gets a ton of groundballs. His change-up, which was just fringe-average coming out of school, is now a solid offering bordering on a plus pitch, and what he’s done with it this year is remarkable.

Meanwhile, Marc Hulet ranked him as the seventh best prospect in the M’s system, and had this to say:

It’s not often that relievers show up on the Top 10 list but Hill had a solid showing in ’09 and could be an important contributor to the Major League bullpen in 2010. The club lacks a true left-handed reliever, although it has some fringe starters who could shift to the ‘pen, so Hill could help fill that void. Pitching at double-A in ’09, the southpaw posted a 2.76 FIP in 95.2 innings. Despite an average fastball in terms of velocity, Hill posted a strikeout rate of 9.41 K/9. He also showed solid control with a walk rate of 2.26 BB/9 and gets good sink on his offerings (53.5 GB%). Encouragingly, Hill is not helpless against right-handed batters, as they hit just .215 against him.

Why he’s probably not worth the transfer fee: That’s just not a skill set with a ton of reward. Factor in that Hill suffered through some injuries this season and there could be questions about his health too.

Why he’s probably worth the transfer fee: The past results are nice. Plus, this wouldn’t be the first time the Rays land an unconventional situational lefty with groundball tendencies.