Rockies' Jaden Hill Hopes To Make Up For Lost Time
The Rockies got a brief, tantalizing glimpse of righthander Jaden Hill last year.
This season they will monitor his innings, given how little he has pitched, but hope he can make a notable developmental step.
“He’s intriguing,” Rockies pitching coordinator Doug Linton said. “The jury’s still out on him. We just want to see how a full season goes with him and how he reacts, but he’s got elite stuff.”
Now 23, Hill had Tommy John surgery in April 2021 while at Louisiana State, causing him to fall in the draft. The Rockies drafted him in the second round.
Because of the pandemic in 2020 and then surgery in 2021, Hill has pitched just 69 innings in the last three years.
At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Hill is a physical presence on the mound. His 92-99 mph fastball sits at 96. Rockies farm director Chris Forbes said it has good lateral life and occasional hard sink.
Hill’s 80-86 mph changeup sits at 83. It’s a swing-and-miss pitch and arguably the best changeup in the Rockies’ farm system.
“He really has a great feel for it,” Forbes said, “and it’s got really good action. It’s really got everything you want. It’s got deception to it. He keeps his arm speed.”
Hill also throws an 81-86 mph slider that sits 83 and an 87-93 mph cutter that sits 90. Those pitches lack consistency but flash plus.
Hill made his pro debut with seven appearances in the Arizona Complex League last summer. He then made three short starts for Low-A Fresno, striking out 14 strikeouts and walking two in 7.1 innings. Hill is scheduled to begin this season at High-A Spokane.
To succeed as a starter will require better command of his breaking stuff. A decision on his ultimate role isn’t imminent, but pitching shorter outings this year and needing time to build up to a starter’s workload might give the Rockies food for thought.
“If he ends up in the bullpen for some reason,” Forbes said, “he could fly through the system.”
— Righthander Chris McMahon, 24, was throwing bullpens before the start of minor league camp and is expected to start the season healthy and on time. He was slowed by a lat strain that occurred in his last spring training start a year ago, and he didn’t make his 2022 debut until July 23. He went a combined 1-0, 5.34 and threw a total of 28.2 innings in the Arizona Complex League and High-A Spokane.
When McMahon developed forearm soreness in early September, the Rockies, being cautious, shut him down for the balance of the season. Drafted in the second round out of Miami in 2020, McMahon was advanced enough to begin his career in 2021 at High-A, where he went 10-3, 4.17 and averaged 9.4 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine innings.
— Greg Jones, 28, will be the hitting coach for the Rockies' Arizona Complex League affiliate. He went from Division II Carson-Newman (Tenn.) to independent ball in 2017 before playing in the Rockies system through 2021. In his last season, Jones also transitioned to bullpen catcher, a role he had last year at Triple-A Albuquerque.
— Trevor Burmeister, the hitting coach in the ACL last year, was promoted to Low-A Fresno hitting coach. He replaced Nic Wilson, who was named minor league hitting coordinator after Darin Everson left the organization to become hitting coach for the Mets’ Double-A Binghamton affiliate.