Rich Hill was drafted by the Cubs in the 4th round of the 2002 draft out of the University of Michigan.
Coming up through the Cubs system he became a pretty big prospect, topping out at the organizations #5 prospect entering the 2006 season. His signature pitch was a 12-to-6 curveball that was next to impossible to hit. He also had a decent fastball that sat in the low 90’s and a change-up. The problem was that he could not throw consistent strikes.
He made the majors in 2005, but did not find real success until 2007, when he went 11-8 over 195 innings, striking out 183 with a 1.195 WHIP. It looked as if he solved his control problems and was on his way.
But in 2008 he struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness, and would spend a good portion of the season in AAA, wrestling with both his health and control. He could not get back on track, and even in the minors put up terrible numbers.
In 2009 he would make a handful of starts with Baltimore, and would go 3-3 with a 7.80 ERA. It would seem that signaled the end of his career as a starter.
He would sign with the a couple clubs from 2010-2014, and was strictly a pen arm. His transaction list is…impressive.
But things changed in 2015.
Despite not being a starter in six seasons. Thinking that he had solved some mechanical issues, Hill thought he still had a career as a starter. He struggled to find a club that would give him a chance, even in AAA, to crack the starting five. So he signed with the Long Island Ducks, who play in the independent Atlantic League.
He only made a couple starts, looked great as a starter, and the Red Sox signed him to their AAA squad…insurance if one of their starters got hurt.
He pitched well in the minors, with a 2.78 ERA over five starts. Then one of Boston’s starters, Steven Wright, went down with an injury, and Hill got the call.
In 29 innings, he only allowed 14 hits, struck out 36 and only walked five. Awesome numbers.
This past winter he signed with Oakland, and went 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA. He pitched so well that the Dodgers, thick in contention, traded for him. In LA, he went 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA.
So at 36 it looks like Hill is back on the map. Hopefully he gets one last good contract before age catches up with him.