The Indians’ 2015 second rounder came to the organization as a projectable lefty with an easy arm, low-maintenance mechanics, and athleticism and body control to consistently repeat his delivery. Hillman, previously limited to action at the complex, has logged four starts for the New York-Penn Mahoning Valley squad in 2016 to impressive results. Through 20.2 IP of work, Hillman has allowed just 13 hits and four walks while striking out 20 and showcasing an above-average fastball, impressive changeup, and improving curveball.
The precocious southpaw has seen a slight uptick in stuff across the board as compared to 2015, starting with his fastball. Previously an upper-80s offering, Hillman’s heater has more consistently worked in the low 90s in 2016, reaching as high as 95 mph, with the same easy arm action previously displayed. His changeup continues to be his most advanced secondary pitch, and the slight increase in fastball velocity, and continued ability to match his release on the fastball and changeup, have improved the deceptive nature and effectiveness of the off-speed offering.
Hillman’s curveball will flash as a solid-average offering in the upper 70s, sometimes reaching the low 80s with tighter action. It projects as a third weapon that will grade out as at least average, giving Hillman a solid arsenal to go with good feel and a facilitative set of mechanics. Additionally, Hillman has impressed early on in this 2016 campaign with his sequencing and command in the zone, particularly with regard to his fastball and changeup.
With plenty of physical projection remaining and an advanced feel for execution at such a young age – Hillman turned just 19 years old this May – there is lots of reasons for optimism that the lefty is adequately equipped to tackle the challenges posed throughout his journey up the developmental ladder. The upside is that of a mid-rotation arm and there is little question Hillman projects to a major league rotation. There aren’t many 19 teenagers that can boast such an outlook.