Scouting Report: OF Jamar Hill

Hill Needs To Cut Down On His Strikeouts

The New York Mets drafted Jamar Hill in the 48th round of the 2001 draft out of Santa Anna College. An Alaskan product, Hill has some of the best overall raw skills at the outfield position, including an intriguing combination of power and speed. Here's a scouting report on Jamar Hill.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Jamar Hill
Position: Right Field
DOB: September 20, 1982
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

For Jamar Hill, 2005 represented equal parts disappointment and learning experience.

Expected to help lead the Mets' St. Lucie club toward a Florida State League title, Hill struggled with the adjustment to High-A ball, slumping at the plate as the team's fortunes slid.

A high-ceiling talent who has been compared to major leaguer Preston Wilson, Hill batted just .186 through the season's first two months but finished the season hot, batting .314 with four home runs in his final 33 games.

The strong conclusion, Hill hopes, will serve as an indicator that he grasped the lessons delivered through a long summer in St. Lucie.

"I learned more in one year this past year than I had in the years before," Hill said. "Sometimes you can't afford a year like that in the minors, because you're always trying to move up. I'm sure I'll come back with the numbers, but I think [struggling] was something you need to go through. It helps you learn quicker."

After belting 26 home runs for Capital City in 2004, Hill reported to spring training with lofty aspirations. Not only was he primed to try and slug 40 home runs over the course of the season, but the 23-year-old from Juneau, Alaska was hoping to skip St. Lucie altogether and begin the year at Double-A Binghamton.

The icy start seemed to puncture those aspirations. Though his defense actually improved in the spacious territory of Tradition Field, Hill seemed lost at the plate, admitting he was forced to rely on waiting for mistake pitches to get on base against tougher Florida State League pitching.

Falling into the habit of using a batting practice 'home run derby' cut in game situations didn't help, either.

"I had a big swing and I was striking out all the time," Hill said. "This year, especially in the second half, I shortened up my swing and I was able to handle the strike zone. I figure if I can continue to keep my swing shorter, the power and that stuff will take care of itself."

"He's a guy with a lot of potential," said St. Lucie teammate Andy Wilson. "He can hit the ball as far as anybody; when he connects with it, it's going to go a long way. When he's on, he's fun to watch. He's a hard-nosed type of player, and he's the kind of guy who's not going to take any days off out there."

Maybe there's something to the Preston Wilson comparison after all. When Wilson was 23 in 1997, the speedy, toolsy outfielder split his year between St. Lucie and Binghamton in the Mets' system, batting just .245 at St. Lucie before moving up at midseason.

Hill will likely get that taste of Double-A in 2006 and could follow a similar path, especially if he's able to cut down on his strikeouts – Hill fanned 151 times for St. Lucie, which tied him for second-most in the league.

"I think no matter how high of an average you hit for, 150 strikeouts isn't good," Hill said. "I think I didn't get the best of the Florida State League, so there's a chance I might be sent back there next season. But it is definitely my goal to be in Double-A in 2006."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2005

St. Lucie

.252

456

115

16

64

64

13

47

151

.326

.414

2004

Capital City

.272

459

125

26

89

83

20

36

110

.334

.492

2003

Capital City

.300

20

6

0

1

0

0

1

6

.364

.350

2003

Kingsport

.241

170

41

6

26

22

14

10

45

.280

.418

2002

Kingsport

.295

200

59

8

31

34

7

22

48

.374

.505



Batting and Power. People make a big deal about the transition between high-A and double-A, but many don't realize the big differences in low-A and high-A. Jamar Hill underestimated how different it was this past season. He opened up the year hitting .187 in his first 42 games before finally settling in and making the necessary adjustments for a strong second-half of the year. He learned to stay on good breaking pitches longer and go the other way more. Hill, despite a wiry and athletic frame, has very good power. He wound up hitting 15 home runs in a notorious pitcher's league with a good amount of doubles. He projects to be a .270-.280 hitter with good power. His high strikeout totals are still a problem, but Hill and the Mets are hoping that he turned a corner in the second-half.

Base Running and Speed. Hill is extremely athletic and is a very smooth runner who takes long strides. As quick as he is however, he hasn't been a very good base stealer in his time with the Mets. He has successfully stolen bases 63.5% of the time after getting caught nine times in 2005. He is fast enough to steal 20+ bases in any given year but will need to learn to read pitchers better.

Defense. Hill has always had good defensive ability in the outfield, boasting a very strong arm. The knock on his defensive game has been occasional mental lapses and taking bad routes on balls, areas which he improved on in 2005 with the St. Lucie Mets. With his big strides, he has the ability to cover a lot of ground in a Major League ballpark.

Projection. Jamar Hill compares to Reggie Sanders in almost every aspect of his game. He projects to be more of a .270-.280 hitter with 20-20 potential, but could wind up hitting for more power. Like Sanders, Hill has a good combination of power and speed. And just like the former Reds & Cardinals outfielder, Hill has an athletic and wiry build to him with a good arm in right field. Hill projects to be a starting outfielder at the Major League level and as promising as he has been so far, he still has a lot of upside in his game after getting limited experience growing up in Alaska. The best has yet to come from Jamar Hill.

ETA. 2008. Hill's slow start to the 2005 season and his rather high strikeout totals could force the Mets to send him back to St. Lucie in 2006, but that seems highly unlikely because of the presence of Ambiorix Concepcion and Carlos Gomez. Hill should open up with the Binghamton Mets next season and he probably needs two more full seasons in the minors before he's ready for the big leagues by 2008.

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