Senior Minor League Writer Dustin Mattison with his weekly look around the St. Louis Cardinals farm…
School: Stephen F. Austin University, Texas
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (24): "Country Fried", as he is sometimes called around Springfield, is somewhat of an enigma. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he doesn't have the size of a traditional power hitter. Nor does he project to have a permanent position. But what Hill does do is hit. This season at Double-A, "The King" hit .282/.333/.470 with 19 home runs and 47 of his 84 total hits going for extra bases.
Hill has the traditional uppercut swing that he uses to produce above-average power especially to the pull side. His hit tool is average while the rest of his tool package is below average. Hill gets pull-conscious and pitchers have exploited that. He racked up 106 strikeouts in 464 at bats. If he is going to continue to climb the ladder, he is going to have to go with the pitch more often.
The Cardinals have tried Hill as a backstop but seeing him this season behind the plate, I just don't see that ever becoming a reality. Interestingly, he did produce his best numbers when he was part of the Springfield battery. Even so, I see his ceiling as a utility man who provides a team with good power off the bench.
Message board community (26): Hill has shown a steady rise in The Cardinal Nation (Birdhouse) rankings, going from #40 in 2008, #29 in 2009, to #26 in 2010. His 2009 season was statistically not as good overall as in 2008 but he did show progress in reducing his K rate and increasing his BB%. The work in those areas might have paid off as he was much improved in the second half of the season when he hit .305/.350/.481.
A factor affecting Hill's 2009 performance might have been his position switch to catcher where he played about 1/3 of the time in 2009. The time and energy spent on learning this challenging position could have been a factor in his poorer statistics. Despite that, if he is able to make the switch to catcher, he will go from being an average 1B/OF bat to a superior bat at catcher.
Hill's bat appears to be ready for Triple-A Memphis and he most likely will start there for the 2010 season. The caveat to that being if the Cards want to him to get more work at catcher and there seems more of opportunity for that at Double-A Springfield he could return there in search of more playing time. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (39): By the time the season starts, Hill will be 25 and will have spent a season and a half at Double-A with no apparent progress in resolving his defensive questions. He was invited to the Arizona Fall League in 2008 where he hit well but seems to have plateaued since, with his 2009 OPS at Springfield lower than during his 2008 introduction there.
I could not leave Hill off my list entirely, but I am not optimistic. The Cardinals already have too many players whose best position is "hitter". If/when Hill moves up, he will continue to get at-bats when a designated hitter is needed, but given there are outfielders ahead of him with more balanced talent and no opportunity at first base, I find it difficult to project a rosy St. Louis future for the Texan.
Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?
Subscribe now to our annual Total Access Pass(tm) and receive in the spring the 2010 FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy companion to "Forty Days", including the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.
© 2009 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.