The city of Ashdown, Ark., is about 20 minutes from the Texas border and is home to about 4,500 people. In a small town like Ashdown, social gatherings often revolve around sports, but star athletes are rare.
Jaden Hill hopes to fill that void.
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 235 pounds, Hill caught the eyes of recruiters at Ashdown High School as a starting point guard, quarterback, and pitcher. But his high school career ended early in May 2019 after he underwent surgery to remove a screw from a plate in his collarbone from a football injury.
Health issues followed Hill to Louisiana State, where injuries affected his college career. This was a major reason why the Rockies were able to select him 44th overall in this year’s MLB Draft.
“You have to be creative, you have to keep an open mind,” said Mark Gustafson, the Rockies’ senior director of scouting operations. “We had a really good history with Jaden and our area scout, Zack Zully, so we had a good comfort level that this is a guy to take a shot at.”
On Wednesday morning, Hill officially signed with the Rockies for a signing bonus of $1,689,500 at full pick price.
Now she’s ready to prove that the arm trouble that stifled various parts of her time at LSU, and underwent Tommy John’s surgery this spring, was just the speed barrier on her path to a professional career.
“I’m excited to be here, I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Hill said during a news conference. “It’s professional baseball, you have to compete no matter where you are and I’m grateful that the Rockies gave me that opportunity.”
Armed with mid-to-upper ’90s fastballs and swing-and-miss change-ups, Hill was a lock for the top-10 pick earlier this spring.
But early in Hill’s junior season, he had some elbow stiffness and felt a “pop” when pitching against Vanderbilt. He underwent surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and finished with 6.67 ERA. Prior to injury, Hill was ranked 8th in the 2021 class and third pitcher overall. baseball america,
Unfazed, Hill knows it will be an uphill battle until he returns. He is in constant touch with Rockies doctors and physical therapists and currently maintains the workout schedule prescribed by them.
“Playing sports, injuries obviously come with it, but you might not have it in your mind,” Hill said, having lost most of his freshman year at LSU to a shoulder injury. “You just have to go out there and compete.”
Hill is currently three months away from being ready for the game, but he thinks he’ll be “better than ever.”
“There is some risk because he had surgery, but at the end of the day, it was a very good decision in our minds right now,” Gustafsson said. “Then when you put that athleticism and the work ethic that he has, it all fits so well together.”
on the deck
The Rockies are closed on Thursday
Trends: As of June 22, Rockies starters have an ERA of 2.91, the second-best among the majors, behind only Milwaukee (2.44).
at issue: Colorado’s bullpen has struggled to find consistency throughout the season, and right-hander Tyler Kinley has been part of that dissonance. He has scored eight of his last 15 runs, allowing a 7.98 ERA and five home runs.
Friday: Rockies RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-8, 4.58 ERA) Dodgers LHP David Price (4-0, 3.12), at 8:10 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (1-4, 5.36) at Dodgers RHP Tony Gonsolin (1-1, 2.83), 7:10 pm, ATTRM
Sunday: Rockies RHP John Gray (6-6, 3.68) at Dodgers TBD, 2:10 pm, ATTRM