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Sam Hilliard

From BR Bullpen

Samuel Beauman Hilliard

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Biographical Information[edit]

OF Sam Hilliard reached the major league with the Colorado Rockies late in the 2019 season after having been a 15th round selection in the 2015 amateur draft. He had earlier been selected in the 31st round of the 2014 amateur draft by the Minnesota Twins out of Crowder College, but declined their offer in order to spend one year at Wichita State University, where he hit .335 in 59 games as a junior.

He began his professional career in 2015 with the Grand Junction Rockies of the Pioneer League, where he hit .306 in 60 games, then hit .267/.348/.449 in 127 games for the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League in 2016, also slamming 23 doubles and 17 homers and driving in 83 runs. he had another fine season in 2017 with the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League, taking full advantage of the favorable hitting conditions to hit .300/.360/.487 in 133 games, with 95 runs, 92 RBIs, 23 doubles, 7 triples and 21 homers. Playing in more standard conditions in 2018 with the Hartford Yard Goats of the AA Eastern League, he still put up decent numbers at .262/.327/.389 in 121 games, with 9 homers and 58 runs scored. He played in the Arizona Fall League following the season.

In 2019, he took the final step to the Show by hitting .262 in 126 games with the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League, finding his power stroke again with 29 doubles, 7 triples and 35 homers, good for 101 RBIs. In his first cup of coffee in the majors, he hit .273 in 27 games, with 7 homers and a slugging percentage of .649. He hit a monster 455-foot homer off Josh Smith of the Boston Red Sox in his major league debut on August 27th; it was the longest homer by a player making his debut since the introduction of Statcast in 2015, and as of 2024 had not been matched. However, the next season was the shortened 2020 season when COVID-19 wreaked havoc with all intimations of normality, and he ended up hitting .210 in 36 games and only 105 at-bats for the Rockies in what was essentially a lost year. In 2021, he had to go back to Albuquerque after a slow start in Colorado, and shuffled between the two all season. He ended up hitting .239 in 53 games in AAA, and .215 in 81 games for the Rockies, with the same total of 14 homers at each stop. In the big leagues, he was used at all three outfield spots, with center field being the most common. He was expected to be a regular for Colorado in 2022, but the season turned out to be a major disappointment as he hit just .184 in 70 games, with 2 homers and 14 RBIs. That earned him another trip back to New Mexico, where he did a lot better, hitting .308 with 13 homers and a .669 slugging percentage in 37 games. In spite of his struggles at the big league level, he was still the Rockies' most-used leftfielder.

On November 6, 2022, he was given a chance for a fresh start when he was dealt to the Atlanta Braves in what was the first trade of the off-season, in exchange for minor league pitcher Dylan Spain. However, he played only 40 games with the Braves in 2023, hitting .236 in just 72 at-bats. He played his last game for Atlanta on July 18th, then went on the injured list with a right heel contusion, and played only four more games that year, on a rehabilitation assignment to the AAA Gwinnett Stripers. Following the season, he was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles, then during spring training in 2024 was claimed again, this time by the Rockies. He started the season in AAA with the Albuquerque Isotopes and was hitting .288 in 65 games with 14 homers and 44 RBIs when he was called up to Colorado on June 21st.

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