With David Dahl signing a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers and Kevin Pillar still out on the market as a free agent, the center field position in Colorado now almost surely belongs to the Rockies’ power-swinging outfielder, Sam Hilliard.
According to RosterResource, the Rockies are positioned to start Hilliard in center field in 2021, allowing him the reps that may help him pair his solid power numbers with consistent contact at the plate. Hilliard carries a career slugging percentage of .527, turning just over eleven percent of his batted balls into barrels over the past two seasons. Among hitters with at least 50 batted ball events in 2020, Sam Hilliard ranked 76th in baseball in hard-hit percentage. His figure slates him in above elite hitters such as Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, and Aaron Judge.
To go along with his strong power numbers, Hilliard is one of the fastest players in Major League Baseball. According to Baseball Savant, Sam Hilliard has the 16th fastest sprint speed of any player in the league. Steamer projections have Hilliard reaching double-digits in stolen bases in 2021, making him an outlet for cheap speed on draft day.
Although they may be an effect of inconsistent playing time, Hilliard’s 2020 season at the plate raised some red flags. For example, Hilliard’s strikeout rate reached 36.8% during the 60-game season. With more plate appearances coming available and Hilliard still looking ahead to his 27th birthday, he is in a great spot to rework his approach and knock down his strikeout rate in the future.
The 2020 dip in face-value metrics such as batting average and on-base percentage has led Hilliard to fall to an average draft position (ADP) of 400th in NFBC drafts completed since the beginning of October. If team owners in your league are allowing Hilliard to fall as low as the 400th pick, Hilliard’s combination of power and speed makes him a very valuable late-round selection.
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