The Anaheim Angels have made an attempt to lure sophomore lefthander Rich Hill away from college baseball and Michigan.
The Angels made Hill their seventh round draft choice (209th overall) in Major League Baseball”s First-Year Player draft this past Tuesday.
But as of now, the Milton, Mass. native is preparing for the start of his Cape Cod summer baseball league and expecting to return to Michigan in the fall.
After holding his opponents to a Big Ten low .199 batting average, Hill finished the season with a 3-5 record and an ERA of 3.84. He struck out 72 batters in just 61 innings, but he also led the team with 53 walks.
The 6-foot-4 lefty relies on a breaking pitch that he will throw at different speeds. He also features a changeup and a solid fastball.
The Angels” director of scouting Don Rowland described Hill in a released statement as “Tall, rangy. But he has a project-body. Quality curve ball. Needs professional instruction to improve.”
“He has got the speed and a big-league body,” Michigan coach Geoff Zahn said. “He is not done developing.”
Ordinarily, college baseball players can”t be drafted until the end of their junior seasons, but Hill was made eligible a year earlier because he had already turned 21 years old.
That puts Hill in an enviable bargaining position.
“He is holding all the cards,” Zahn said. “Whatever offer they give him, he will most likely turn down initially.”
Anaheim will hold Hill”s rights until he returns to classes at Michigan.
“I don”t expect anything to be decided until the deadline is looming,” Zahn said. “That is the way things work in pro baseball.”
When the deadline comes, the offers could be substantially higher for Hill. And if the offer isn”t up to his standards, Hill can simply return to class and Michigan baseball. As a sophomore Hill would carry that same leverage after next season.
“Right now it is a 50-50 chance with Rich,” Zahn said. “We”ll know when we see him in class, not before.”
Two years ago, after Hill”s senior year of high school, the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 36th round.
Yankee Boy: The Wolverines will not have to wait till August to hear about their other draft choice”s future.
The New York Yankees continued their practice of signing Michigan baseball players this week when they made hard-throwing righthander Bobby Wood their 24th round selection in Major League Baseball”s First-Year Player Draft.
The junior Wood is expected to announce that he will forgo his senior season at Michigan. Zahn said that he heard that Wood was already in Yankee camp in Tampa, but he had not actually spoken with him.
“I understand that it was his intension to sign.” Zahn said.
Wood emerged as a strong starter for the Wolverines down the stretch. He finished the season 5-3 with a 2.57 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 49 innings. He also picked up two saves in the first half of the season.
He would be joining former Michigan letter-winners David Parrish and Mike Cervenak in the Yankees” farm system.
New York also holds the rights to several former-Michigan recruits. Derek Jeter, Drew Henson and Andy Brown all opted to forgo college baseball in Ann Arbor when the Yankees called their names.
Welcome Back: Two other Michigan underclassmen, junior pitchers Bobby Korecky and Jeff Trzos, were bypassed in the draft. Zahn expectes both to be in uniform for the Wolverines next spring.
Korecky was Michigan”s No. 1 starter and a second team All-Big Ten Selection. He finished 6-4 with an ERA of 3.35 and an out-of-this-world eight complete games in twelve starts.
Zahn was happy to have his most valuable pitcher returning for next season, but he was surprised to see the draft complete with no one holding Korecky”s rights.
“They look at him and say “How much better is he going to get,”” Zahn said. “But they failed to look at his heart. Bobby is all heart.”
None of the Wolverines” recruits for next season were drafted.