From the Journal Gazette-Times Courier:
Before Central Illinois snow could melt, Mitch Hilligoss headed to work in a much better climate.
The pride of Windsor is still to learn whether he is going to spend his summer with the New York Yankees lower Class A team in Charleston, S.C., or higher A team in Tampa, Fla.
â€œOther things could happen but most likely those are the choices,â€ Hilligoss said. â€œBoth would be nice places to be around.
â€œI have no idea really. We donâ€™t know what to expect. We all went out to eat and talked about it. We donâ€™t really know. (The Yankees) probably have a good idea. As far as me knowing, they donâ€™t tell you that information.â€
A year ago at this time he was at Purdue starting his junior season on the way to his second year as an All-American and All-Big Ten Conference star.
Now, after taking a full load of classes in the fall semester continuing toward graduation, Hilligoss is just a ballplayer.
Until arriving at the Yankeesâ€™ spring training site in Florida this week before games begin March 3, he has been a player on his own in Illinois winter.
â€œI tried to get some running in, get the legs in shape,â€ Hilligoss said. â€œI tried to get some swings in. With the weather it is tough. I worked out with the weights at the civic center in Sullivan. People at Windsor High School were nice enough to let me in and use the batting cage. The body feels pretty good right now.â€
â€œItâ€™s a different ballgame,â€ Hilligoss said of using the wooden bat. â€œYouâ€™ve got to perfect your swing. I donâ€™t know if you hit the ball harder or not. Itâ€™s just different.â€
Defensively, Hilligoss is glad opposing batters donâ€™t use aluminum anymore. After playing shortstop at Purdue, he moved to the third base hot corner in pro ball and expects to stay at that position this year.
â€œThird base wasnâ€™t as bad as I thought,â€ he said. â€œThe wood bat helps.â€
Well, I can answer the “will it be Low-A Charleston or High-A Tampa for Hilligoss” question for you, and it’ll be Low-A Charleston. Why you ask? It’s simple, some guy named Vechionacci will be manning the hot corner in Tampa. Groundbreaking analysis, I know.
Hilligoss had the Troy Tulowitzki split working in ’06, batting .394 vs LHP but only .260 vs RHP. Of course, Tulowitzki is a right-handed batter while Hilligoss bats from the left side, which makes his split a whole lot more interesting. I’m curious to see if he keeps that up.
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