Detroit Tigers' Derek Hill makes Willie Mays-style catch

July 9 (UPI) -- Detroit Tigers outfielder Derek Hill made an over-the-shoulder, Willie Mays-style catch during an intrasquad game at Comerica Park in Detroit.

However, no fans were in attendance to applaud the play due to coronavirus pandemic safety guidelines.


Tigers infielder Jeimer Candelario was at the plate during the sequence. Candelario belted a pitch deep toward right center field to start the play. Hill bolted to his left as soon as the bat hit the ball. He raced toward the warning track before he slowed his sprint and allowed the ball to sail just above his head.

The ball then appeared to fall out of range for Hill, but the outfielder adjusted his body and extended his gloved left hand. He hit the ground with the ball in the webbing of his glove, but the impact forced the ball to pop loose. Hill used his right hand to finish the play with a bare-handed snag.

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"The ball started out on my left side and just kind of faded back over my right side," Hill told reporters. "I just had to make the adjustment. I didn't have time to really flip around and pick the ball back up, so I just decided to do it over my shoulder."


The play mimicked -- but was even more acrobatic than -- Mays' famous catch from Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.

"We'll take it," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We like that. I think everybody liked it except the guy that hit it."

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Hill has yet to make his MLB debut. The first-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft has spent the last six seasons in the Tigers' minor league system.

Hill was headed for another season in the minors, likely at the Triple-A level, before the Minor League Baseball season was canceled due to the pandemic. He is now a long shot to make the Tigers' MLB roster for the 60-game 2020 season, but could improve his odds with more sensational catches and good production as a hitter.

The Tigers are scheduled to start the 2020 season on the road. Detroit will face the Cincinnati Reds in a three game series, which starts at 6:10 p.m. EDT July 24 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Kansas City Royals batter Alex Gordon connects for a sacrifice RBI during an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 22. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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