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Saturday, July 24, 2021

LSU pitcher Jaden Hill fell to the Rockies in the second round of the MLB Draft due to a history of injury. Now he is ready to prove his gamble right.

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,

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