Kenny Hill moved to College Station on Saturday, started summer school classes Monday and will begin summer workouts with the Texas A&M football team at the end of the week.
Hill, a highly recruited dual-threat quarterback out of Southlake Carroll, is excited about taking his football career to the next level. But he also could entertain the idea of pursuing professional baseball, too.
Hill is coming off an impressive season playing third base for the Dragons, batting .481 with six doubles, three triples, four home runs and 26 RBIs. He could be taken at some point in this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, a three-day event that begins Thursday.
Hill, along with hundreds of players throughout the country, will be forced to make a decision whether to go to college or turn professional. Hill is in a more unique situation than others, though, as he is set to play football at a big-time program.
Cody Thomas, a quarterback from Colleyville Heritage who signed with Oklahoma, is in a position similar to Hill. Thomas, an outfielder who batted .482 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs this season, is ranked as the 165th best prospect by Baseball America.
Hill, meanwhile, heard he could have been as high as a fourth-round selection but could fall because of his football commitment and the signing bonus it would take to make him leave A&M.
“Truthfully, I don’t know what that number would be,” Hill said. “It would have to be something where it’d be dumb for me not to take.”
Hill downplayed the notion that he could be swayed toward baseball with the possibility of being behind reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel on the depth chart for three years, assuming Manziel plays out his full eligibility.
“It’s something to consider, but I don’t think that would make or break a decision either way,” Hill said.
As of now, Hill expects to play football and baseball at A&M, but another scenario exists.
Assuming he’s drafted, Hill could explore the possibility of playing football at A&M and minor-league baseball during the summers. There has been a precedent set that would allow Hill to pursue both without affecting his NCAA eligibility. Former Texas running back Ricky Williams did it in the late 1990s.
“Baseball is absolutely something I want to do,” said Hill, whose dad, former pitcher Ken Hill, spent parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues.
“I love baseball and it’s something I want to still try to keep doing. [A&M] was cool with me playing both here, but I haven’t talked to them about playing in the summer in the minors. But, if that opportunity came about, I’d definitely talk with them and see what’s up.”
Some MLB teams might shy away from the idea of taking a two-sport athlete like Hill or Thomas, but the Rangers have shown a willingness to explore that avenue. Last year, they used their 14th- and 15th-round picks on players in similar situations.
In the 14th round, the Rangers took outfielder Kwinton Smith from Dillon (S.C.) High School. He had committed to play wide receiver at South Carolina. Then, in the 15th round, they took outfielder Jameis Winston from Hueytown (Ala.) High School. He was regarded as one of the top quarterback recruits in the country and headed to Florida State.
Smith and Winston opted not to sign with the Rangers, but that possibility had at least been broached.
“Each situation is unique — there’s no one way of handling it,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “If the guy’s a great athlete but almost definitely going to school to play football, that’s one thing. If our scouts feel he has a true passion for baseball and either wants to pursue both, or is open to being swayed to focus on baseball only, that’s a different story.
“Two-sport guys have different leverage, so to take them up high, we’d have to have a pretty good sense that they want to sign and know what it would take. We love taking chances on makeup and athleticism, but no one likes wasting a pick on someone who won’t sign.”