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Shawn Hill turns in solid outing as Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Triple-A) Opening Day starter

Hill Tigers

I knew we could do it.  A post that’s not about Scott Rice’s debut with the Mets!

Instead, it’s a post about another former Revolution pitcher we’ve also written about extensively here.  Shawn Hill, who became just the second Rev alum to reach the Major Leagues the same season he played for York, and the first to earn a winning decision in an MLB game when he was on the right side of a Blue Jays victory over Andy Pettitte and the Yankees last September in Toronto, was impressive in Detroit Tigers camp this spring.  (He was briefly out of camp pitching for Canada in the World Baseball Classic as well.)  Unfortunately, there still wasn’t room for Hill as the Tigers fifth starter coming out of spring training, (no shame there, the Tigers are still pretty deep, having won the American League pennant last year and all) but he was assigned to the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens of the International League.

Toledo opened their season tonight (April 4) at Louisville (Reds), and Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin gave the ball to Hill as the Opening Day starter.  That pretty much makes Hill the best pitcher in the Tigers organization not currently in the big leagues, or their “number 6” if you will; while no such distinction is official, it sure looks like Hill is the proverbial “one injury, one phone call” away from a return to the Majors, where he’s already been with Montreal, Washington, San Diego and Toronto.  While I’m sure Hill would happily jump at the chance to come out of the Tigers bullpen, he is a starter through and through.  At the time of this post, he has 45 big league appearances, 44 of which are starts, to go with 126 minor league appearances, 125 of which are starts.

A Detroit starter may have to go down or miss a day for Hill to become the second Revolution alum to reach the Majors on two separate occasions; lefty reliever Justin Hampson (Revs 2010) was the first after he was called up to the Mets in June and again in September last season, back and forth from Triple-A.  If it happens for Hill though, he would be the first Rev alum to reach the big leagues on two separate occasions with two separate organizations.

Oh yeah…how did Hill do in his Toledo debut?  He was solid in a no-decision, a 4-3 Louisville win.  In seven innings, Hill allowed five hits and three earned runs, striking out four and didn’t walk anyone.  Ironically, two of the three runs he allowed came on solo home runs to Louisville first baseman Mike Hessman, who is actually Toledo’s all-time home run leader from playing there 2005 through 2009. (140 (!) of his 380 (!!) pro home runs, 14 of which came in big league cups of coffee for the Braves, Tigers and Mets.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I used to work for the Mud Hens.  It was awesome.  Very similar industrial/downtown setting to Sovereign Bank Stadium in York, just more Ohio-ey.)

Although Hill left the game after seven trailing 3-0, the Hens took him off the hook by rallying for three runs in the top of the ninth, only to see Louisville walk-off with a 4-3 opening day win.

-Paul Braverman


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