Career on hold

Published 12:25 am Sunday, June 28, 2009

CINCINNATI — Michael Hill’s high school baseball career ended four years ago. His college baseball career ended a few weeks ago.

But his baseball career hasn’t ended yet if Michael Hill has anything to do with it.

Despite not being selected in the recent Major League Baseball free agent draft, Hill isn’t ready to hang up his spikes just yet.

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“I love playing baseball and I still love playing baseball. But I think it’s time to move on, get my degree and get on with my life. If I would get a call in the next few weeks, yeah, I’d go,” said Hill.

And if he doesn’t get a call?

“I’ve always wanted to coach. I don’t think I could ever get away from baseball. I can’t see myself in an office. I’d like to get into coaching, possibly in college, and if not I could get into teaching high school and coach there.”

After a stellar high school career at Fairland, Hill signed with East Carolina. It was Hill’s desire to play more often that caused him to switch from East Carolina to Cincinnati

“I didn’t get the chance to pitch down there. In high school you get to play every day, and in college you don’t play every day. It didn’t sit well and I wanted to go somewhere and play and Cincinnati gave me the best opportunity,” said Hill.

The 6-foot, 182-pound Hill was a three-year letterman for the Bearcats after transferring from East Carolina where he earned a letter for the Pirates as a freshman.

At East Carolina, Hill appeared in eight games including one as a starter. He worked 10.2 innings. He had a 4.22 earned run average with seven strikeouts, six walks and 14 hits allowed. He did not have a decision.

After transferring to Cincinnati for his sophomore season, Hill was in 15 games including 10 as a starter and posted a 5-2 record. He struck out 59 in 55 innings with 28 walks and allowed 52 hits. He finished with a 5.24 ERA.

Hill started 12 of 15 games in his junior season and went 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA. He had 65 strikeouts in 80.2 innings and just 16 walks while allowing 83 hits.

This season the Bearcats were 29-29 and Hill went 3-5 and led the team with 14 starts in as many appearances. He had one complete game as he worked 80.1 innings with a 7.06 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 30 walks and 104 hits.

“I knew this year I was better than last year and things just didn’t go my way. That was the frustrating thing,” said Hill.

There haven’t been any free agent calls so far although something could fall Hill’s way if the college juniors who have been drafted elect to remain in school.

Hill did have some interest after his junior season. He said more than a dozen teams sent him letters of interest.

“After last year, I thought I had a shot at (the draft). I got letters from 12 or 13 teams before this year, but nothing happened. I understand it. They go on numbers. And sometimes it is my height. But if you can pitch, you can pitch,” said Hill.

Cincinnati pitching coach Chris Reilly pitching coach thought Hill was draft material.

“(Reilly) thought I should have been given a chance after the year I had last year,” said Hill.

One of the things Hill had to adjust to after transferring was the differences between Conference USA and the Big East, both of which are filled with strong baseball talent.

“Conference USA was more of a hitting conference. Those guys can swing it down there. The Big East isn’t any easy conference. They don’t get enough recognition,” said Hill.

“In Conference USA, hitters one through nine are better and deeper, but the Big East can hit it, too, like Louisville, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Rutgers. Each conference has its strengths and weaknesses.”

And speaking of hitting, Hill was an outstanding hitter in high school and a slick-fielding shortstop. He knows playing every day as a position player is another option.

“I was recruited as a hitter and pitcher, but I never got a chance as a hitter. I just stuck with what I do best,” said Hill. “I’ve always thought about that, but I stuck with pitching. It’s pretty hard in college to do both things. I’ve been out of hitting so long, I don’t know how well I can still hit.”