Nationals Sign Koyie Hill

10:59am: Hill's contract contains a July 1 opt-out clause that allows him to elect free agency if he's not on the Major League roster by that time, tweets MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo.

9:50am: The Nationals announced that they have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with veteran catcher Koyie Hill (Twitter link). The Turner Gary Sports client also received an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Though he's a career .206/.266/.287 hitter, Hill has carved out a nice career for himself as a backup catcher. The switch-hitting 34-year-old (he turns 35 in March) has tallied 1027 plate appearances in the Major Leagues and recorded at least 10 big league games per season dating back to 2007. He spent the 2013 campaign with the Marlins, batting .155/.183/.190 in the Majors (61 PAs) and .237/.291/.326 at Triple-A. Hill is a career .268/.326/.411 hitter at the Triple-A level.

The Nationals have been on the lookout for catching depth of late as they look to find a backup for starter Wilson Ramos. They've reportedly had recent discussions with the Rays about a Jose Lobaton deal.


13 Responses to Nationals Sign Koyie Hill Leave a Reply

  1. Steve 1 year ago

    I always wonder how he keeps getting jobs

    • Very little of a backup catcher’s value is determined with a bat in his hands.

    • BENT_WOOKIE 1 year ago

      unless he is blocking a stud prospect I don’t see an issue. it’s a zero risk deal for a dude fighting to live the dream. he’s likely good in the clubhouse and is going to be a good teacher to young pitchers trying to make the jump from AAA to the majors. I wonder more about how people keep making the same comments about minor league deals and not the deals themselves.

  2. Eugene in Oregon 1 year ago

    Okay, I keep up with MLB fairly closely, but I have never, ever heard of this guy before.

    • Interesting tidbit for you, then. In 2007, he cut off his thumb and mangled all four fingers on his right hand in a tablesaw accident. A hand surgeon repaired his phalanges and he rehabbed them back to a reasonable range of motion and, in 2009, threw out 20 of 50 base stealers with his surgically repaired hand. He has been a weak hitter his whole career, but he has more trouble now because he is unable to grip a bat well any longer.

  3. National_Anthem 1 year ago

    I understand the need for depth signings but this one confuses me. Can’t hit, no power and strikes out approximately 30 percent of the time. Can’t throw out a base stealer. Must really call a heck of game (sarcasm intended).

    • There are few things that can potentially derail a team’s season more than losing an effective starting catcher without a veteran backup. Prospect catchers can’t be thrust into the fold in an emergency, as pitch calling, pitch framing, and blocking major-league breaking balls in the dirt all develop later. In addition, they have no relationship with the major league starters, so reading their body language and knowing their tendencies will be a challenge. Experienced, defense-minded catchers are ideal backups if they cannot hit. If they could hit, they would all be starting catchers. Koyie Hill has shown no problem with hanging out in Triple A until he is needed, which is a bonus as well. I like this guy.

  4. I’ll be the guy to actually say something about Koyie Hill. In 2009, Koyie Hill threw out 20 of 30 base-stealers. He has never had that level of success again, but it did give him the reputation of having a great arm, which has helped him to maintain a role as a backup defensive catcher. He does have a reputation as a solid game-caller. In 2013, pitchers had a combined 3.58 run average in games he caught (albeit he only caught 18 games) — and that was with the Marlins. He is solid at blocking pitches and makes very few fielding errors. He has been known to make the occasional throwing error. I think he is still useful in this league at the thin catching position where defense, framing, blocking, and game-managing is all more important than offensive output.

    • Michael 1 year ago

      Actually, I believe he threw out 20 of 50 (20 out, 30 successful). I applaud the guy for playing this long after the freak accident he had. Unfortunately, much like the head or the ankle, the hand does not take punishment or injury well and he is most likely looking at an early bout of arthritis or other serious joint issues if he isn’t already. I know, I’ve been there.

    • National_Anthem 1 year ago

      Granted, in 2009, he threw out 20 of 30 would-be base stealers. Subsequently, he has thrown out 8 of 37, 8 of 25, 2 of 6 and 2 of 11. That works out to 20 of 79 in the last four years and the trend seems to underscore decline. You indicate he’s good at blocking the plate but, in his MLB career, I see 85 wild pitches in about 258 games. While he has a sterling .992 FP for his career, in the same last four years, he’s made 12 errors in 120 innings.

      Never having seen Hill play (to the best of my knowledge), I have no informed opinion or actual feelings about Hill one way or the other. But given his anemic batting and proclivity for the big whiff, what makes him more desirable than Solano, Leon or Snyder as backup?

      Sorry, he seems to be better suited to being a bullpen catcher.

      • National_Anthem 1 year ago

        And as Michael Smith notes, the stolen base numbers should actually be 8 of 45, 8 of 33, 2 of 8 and 2 of 13 for a total of 20 out of 99… about a 20 percent success rate which is below major league average.

      • Well argued. As a AAA signing, I don’t know that he is more desirable than the catchers you’ve listed here, apart from potential intangibles. If one of the guys above is thrust into a starting role, Hill becomes a backup. That’s the value.

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