|MLB dreams a reality for SF native White, ex-’Hound Hill |
|If it’s a dream, then neither former Union City Greyhound Rafael Hill nor South Fulton native Cory White wants to wake up. |
Both standouts with deep local ties were drafted Friday in the latter stages of Major League Baseball’s 2008 Amateur Draft.
Hill, the 2006 Kitty League Offensive Player of the Year and a member of last year’s postseason champion squad, was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 47th round of the MLB Draft.
Meanwhile, White, who is in his second season with the Fulton Railroaders, was picked by the Cleveland Indians during the 44th round of the same draft.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since T-ball,” White — who played at Rend Lake Community College the past two seasons — told The Messenger. “I’ve always wanted to play baseball and now I’ve got the opportunity to do it at a high level.
“I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get picked higher but, for right now, I’ll see what type of offer they put on the table after they come and watch me pitch a couple times.”
White has made two starts for the Railroaders this season and he is 1-1. The 6-foot, 180-pounder, who boasts a mid-90s fastball, a slider and a change-up, is pitching only on the weekends for the team while he takes classes through the week at RLCC.
If he chooses not to sign with the Indians’ organization, White, who has yet to decide on an academic major, stated he plans to play at the University of Indianapolis during what would be his junior season in the spring of 2009.
“Baseball is my major as of right now,” White said. “However, I feel I do have options if I do not sign this year. If the draft doesn’t come through this time, I might get drafted higher and get more money if I play college baseball another year.”
On the flip side, Hill is in the process of obtaining a passport with hopes he will be sent to one of the Rangers’ single-A teams in either Clinton, Iowa, Bakersfield, Ca. or Spokane, Wash., as soon as he inks his deal.
“The Rangers are supposed to be calling me any time with instructions,” Hill told The Messenger. “They’ve told me to get my passport already and they’ve said they are going to put me in the minor leagues when I sign.
“Because of my age (24), they said they probably won’t send me to rookie league ball, so I think they are going to put me with one of their single-A teams.”
For Hill, the 2002 Mr. Football Back Award winner while at Westview, the opportunity came after he elected to play both football and baseball at Austin Peay State University.
After playing one season of both sports, the speedy Hill chose baseball for the remainder of his tenure with the Governors, which he completed when he graduated with a degree in health and human performance on May 2.
And it was the right decision for the 5-foot-10 center fielder.
During the 2008 season, Hill hit a career-best .388 with 27 stolen bases and the second-highest on-base percentage (.494) in the Ohio Valley Conference. In 2007, Hill hit .305 with 28 stolen bases for APSU.
That is a sharp contrast from the first two seasons of Hill’s collegiate baseball career. Hill was just 2-for-33 during his first two years with the Govs and he tabbed his Kitty League stint as being beneficial to the progression of his career.
“The thing about playing in the Kitty League that helped me is that it got me much needed at-bats and it also allowed me to see different styles of pitching that I had not been exposed to before,” Hill explained. “When I first started at Austin Peay, I was playing catch-up after being in the football program and, by coming to Union City for summer ball, I was able to get nearly 200 extra at-bats that helped me get where I needed to be competitively.”
With those extra at-bats, Hill excelled, quickly becoming a fan favorite at L.H. Ladd Field.
In 2006, the Westview product compiled a stat line that was highlighted by a .314 batting average, 49 stolen bases, 45 runs and 25 runs batted in. During his second tour of duty with the Greyhounds in 2007, Hill finished the campaign with a batting average of .295, 38 runs, 26 stolen bases and 18 RBI.
While the picks were later in the draft from the big names being showcased on national sports outlets, it is worth noting that St. Louis Cardinals’ closer Jason Isringhausen was drafted in the 44th round in 1991 and current New York Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth was a 47th round pick in 1994.
“Since I got drafted, I’ve got to take a shot at it,” Hill said. “I look at a guy like Kenny Lofton — who was a star in basketball — and see the success and chance he had because of his speed. Now, I’ve got that chance and I’m ready to make the best of it.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.