The Kansas City Royals’ Tim Hill became the fourth former Palomar College player to make a 2018 opening-day 25-man Major League roster as the current season got underway on Thursday, March 29th. The 6-foot -2, 200-pound side-armed rookie reliever joins veteran pitcher Nick Vincent of the Seattle Mariners, veteran infielder/outfielder Tyler Saladino of the Chicago White Sox and veteran pitcher James “Jimmy” Hoyt of the World Champion Houston Astros in “The Show” and pitched in the Royals’ season opener against the White Sox on Thursday. On Saturday, Hill recorded his first Major League strikeout, also against the White Sox.
Hill was a teammate of Saladino’s at Palomar before being drafted as an NAIA All-American honorable mention selection out of Bacone College in Muscogee, Oklahoma in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. The first Bacone player to be drafted since 2002, Hill led the Red River Conference in wins (10-2), earned run average (1.89) and strikeouts during his senior season that and was selected as the conference’s Pitcher of the Year. Hill, Vincent, Saladino and Hoyt are believed to make Palomar the first Pacific Coast Athletic Conference college ever to land four former players on opening-day Major League rosters in the same season. He averaged more than a strikeout an inning in reaching Double-A during his stint in the Royals’ Minor League organization, then made the jump from Double A to the Major League roster on Thursday.
He missed most of his second season in the Minor Leagues while battling cancer, but is now fully recovered and is officially a cancer survivor. Topping out at 91 miles per hour in the proud tradition of the Royals’ Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee and former Orange Coast College star submariner Dan Quisenberry, Hill is especially effective against left-handed hitters and in Minor League ball got both left- and right-handed opposing batters to ground out 60 percent of the time, which is hardly surprising to for Kansas City catcher Drew Butera. What Butera has to say about Hill’s effectiveness: “It’s just something (coming from underneath) that every batter hardly ever gets to see. And bigger batters, and especially left-handers, find his release point even more difficult, to pick up.”