The month of May was very kind to pro Mountaineer baseball players.
The hot streak began on May 5 when John Means, one of the first Mountaineers coached by Randy Mazey to reach the big leagues, tossed the first individual no-hitter for the Orioles since 1969.
That successful month stretched into June, when the Chicago Cubs named Darius Hill their minor league player of the month for May. Hill, who broke Jedd Gyorko’s career doubles record at WVU in 2019, batted .337 with five doubles, a homer and 16 RBI last month. He began the season in Low-A, but quickly earned a promotion to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies after seven appearances.
The former Mountaineer is finding a groove at the plate once again, and he remains as focused as ever.
“I’ve been surrounded by great players, great coaches and we’re playing against great players, too,” Hill said this week in an exclusive conversation with Gold and Blue Nation. “Just making sure I come to the field every day with a consistent mindset that I have to be good every day, otherwise these guys are gonna get the best of me, and that’s worked for me so far.”
Hill is enjoying more consistency in his routine, too. He was selected by the Cubs in the 20th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, but the Minor League Baseball season was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout that stoppage, Hill said he tried to stay positive and kept working hard on his game. He also grew fond of a different game: golf.
“It’s been fun,” Hill said of his new hobby. “It’s something new to do, something other than baseball, so it’s been a fun thing to do.”
While Hill admits his golf game won’t be winning awards anytime soon, he does enjoy playing a round with some of his former WVU teammates. That group, which delivered the Morgantown Regional to Mountaineer fans two years ago, has stayed in close contact while pursuing life after WVU.
That 2019 team produced quite a few pro prospects — Hill and six other players from that roster are currently playing affiliated ball, while Manoah, a former Big 12 pitcher of the year, recently made his MLB debut for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“The thing I remember most about that team is just the camaraderie and the chemistry that we had together. We all still keep up with each other today, especially the guys that are in pro ball,” Hill said. “I know I check on everybody every day. It’s just a group that 10-20 years from now, yeah the fans and coaches will remember fondly, but I think we’ll all still be very close with each other now.”
Hill also reflected on his relationship with head coach Randy Mazey and shared his analysis of one current Mountaineer who elevated his status during the spring. Watch the full interview right here on GoldAndBlueNation.com.