I'm not sure a lot of you know who Chris Hilliard is, but after last night's 8 inning, 2 hit, 4K, shut out performance, he might be someone you want to keep an eye on. That outing brought his team leading season record to 9-1 and tied a franchise single season record for wins in a season. Chris will have one more start, likely against the Vermont Lake Monsters, with an opportunity to claim the record for himself. In his last start just last week against the Lake Monsters, Hilliard pitched 6 innings giving up 5 hits and 1 ER in a victory. The NYPL leading Brooklyn Cyclones were well represented in the mid season All Star Game with RHP Yohan Almonte, 3B Joe Bonfe, CF Darrell Ceciliani, LHP Angel Cuan, 1B Jeff Flagg, RHP Ryan Fraser, SS Rylan Sandoval, RF Cory Vaughn, all well deserved of an All Star nomination, but Hilliard is certainly making a case to be the biggest snub from the NYPL All State team.
Hilliard was a 38th round draft pick by the Mets in 2008 from the nationally-ranked Itawamba C.C. Indians, in Fulton, Mississippi. Hilliard was a unanimous choice as the First Team All-Region starting left-handed pitcher after posting an 11-2 record with six complete games and a 4.41 ERA. He then signed and was assigned to the GCL Mets where he went 1-0, 2.87, 1.28, in ten relief appearances. This included 17 strikeouts in 15.2-IP and only two walks. Last year in Kingsport he was 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA while mostly pitching out of relief. At 6’0, 175 lbs, the lefty isn’t build like a prototypical front line starter and that may prevent him from being a starter as he moves up the ladder but Hilliard has certainly made a name for himself this season for the Cyclones.
After this year’s performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to start him in St. Lucie next year, but with a lot of pitching talent in our system at that level, in all likelihood the then 23 yr old will be in Savannah rotation to start next year, with a chance to end the season in Binghamton. Long term, I think Hilliard is most suited as a lefty bullpen arm but will have to improve his strikeout rate and his ability to get lefties out. This year, he ERA against lefties is 5.40, while lefties are currently hitting .308 against him, yet somehow he just continues to win games and dominate the New York Penn League.
Hopefully, now you know who Chris Hilliard is and more importantly you will know who he is for the future!
Let’s Go Mets!