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Scouting Adam Hill and Felix Valerio, the new Milwaukee Brewers prospects

The Milwaukee Brewers were able to restore a small part of their farm system when they traded Keon Broxton to the New York Mets. David Stearns and company acquired a pitcher drafted in 2018 and young international free agent. Both have the potential to be notable additions to the minor leagues, but carry a bit of risk. We’re taking a look at their profiles and what to expect from Adam Hill and Felix Valerio.

The 6’6” Hill is the prize of the trade, in my eyes. He’s 215 lbs, throws 95 mph, and has two potentially plus pitches to accompany his fastball. The righty has strikeout stuff, with a third starter’s ceiling, as long as he learns to control his pitches.

Coming out of high school, Hill was drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 draft by the San Diego Padres. He, of course, declined to sign and went on to player for the University of South Carolina, where he pitched with current Brewers farmhand Braden Webb.

The Gamecocks used Hill as a starter for three years. He started all 44 of his college games, pitching in 226.1 innings, with a 3.58 ERA, 260 strikeouts, and 122 walks.

Hill took over as the Gamecocks’ top starter in 2018. After one of his three worst games of the season, Hill had back-to-back 14 strikeout games, setting the Gamecock’s home stadium record for K’s in a game. Those performances helped sling him up draft boards, but a bout with shoulder tendinitis and two poor performances following those gems helped bring him back down to earth.

Hill had three major blemishes on his 2018 college record, allowing 20 runs in three of his games. In those three games, he pitched 11.1 innings, struck out 14, and walked 12. In his other 13 starts, Hill had 71.2 IP, 20 earned runs, 87 K’s, and 43 BB’s. These numbers aren’t meant to excuse Hill’s three bad performances, but demonstrate his potential when he’s able to find his pitches consistently.

Heading into the draft, Hill was ranked 89th overall by Baseball America and 139th by MLB Pipeline. Both sites lauded Hill’s power fastball, but contradict each other when it comes to evaluating his secondary pitches. Pipeline gives both the slider and changeup a 50 grade, but they say the changeup is the more reliable offering. Baseball America gives his slider a better evaluation. For what it’s worth, Rob Friedman seems to like his changeup the best.

Hill would end up going 110th overall to the New York Mets. The Mets signed Hill for the slot price and assigned him to their low-A team. He pitched in nine games for the Brooklyn Cyclones, only giving up a 2.35 ERA in 15.1 innings, striking out 26 and walking seven.

If a power fastball, hard slider, good changeup and inconsistent mechanics sound familiar, it should. Those are very similar descriptors for some of Milwaukee’s best pitching prospects when they were drafted. More specifically, he sounds a lot like Corbin Burnes, who was drafted 111th overall in 2016. I’m not saying Hill will be Burnes, just that the Brewers have excelled with pitchers who show flashes of brilliance but need some issues ironed out.

While Hill has an enticing profile that is similar to recent successes, their other acquisition is a bit more of a wild card. Felix Valerio is a mystery. Not much was said about him before he signed with the New York Mets. He’s a diverse infielder, who can play shortstop, second and third. But, he’s 5’7” and 165 lbs at 18, which isn’t the profile major league scouts generally look for.

Despite not having the look of a major leaguer, Valerio had great success in 67 Dominican Summer League games, hitting .319/.403/.433. Unfortunately, box score success is all we really have for evaluation. That success is enough to provide some hope for Valerio, who is still many years away from making an impact.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and Baseball Cube

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