Hunter Looking For His Rhythm

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA - After his first full professional season started off on a high note with two scoreless spring training appearances at Oakland's major league camp, it's been all downhill for pitcher Brett Hunter. The seventh-round pick in 2008, a former preseason All-American at Pepperdine, lost his command and confidence at Low-A Kane County.

Things came to head after his final two outings of May, in which he surrendered 11 earned runs on 12 walks and five hits over 3 2/3 innings. The pitch that had been the biggest weapon in his arsenal at Pepperdine was the culprit.

"The issue so far has been fastball command," said Brett Hunter.

"There's some mechanical stuff I'm working on. It's nothing major. I'll be back here in no time. I'm not really worried about it at all."

Hunter has improved in the bullpen, but it's still not the finished product that the organization was hoping for when it paid him a record seventh-round bonus last summer.

In four June outings, Hunter has allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Free passes continue to plague him, as he has issued more than one walk per inning.

Through two months of the season, he has surrendered 30 earned runs and 83 base runners in just 35 2/3 innings, good for an ERA of 7.57 and WHIP of more than two.

But as the Cougars wrap up their first-half slate in the Midwest League, Hunter feels he has reached a turning point.

"It all comes down to repeating your delivery and the last couple outings I've done a better job of that," he said.

"I think it's a little bit easier to work on some things when you're getting into more games. The outings aren't as long, but I feel I'm getting better every day. The side sessions and bullpen work helps, but nothing compares to getting in the game and working on stuff."

Hunter has experience working in the bullpen and starting rotation from his days at Pepperdine, so it remains to be seen where he'll end up as a professional.

"I really don't have a preference, because I like both spots," Hunter said. "That's up to the coaching staff and organization."

One year after being drafted by the A's, the 21-year old has no regrets about signing a professional contract. This despite going in the seventh round after being touted as a first-round talent heading into the spring of '08.

He aspires to become the next in a long line of pitchers in the A's organization to make an impact in the big leagues.

"I think it was definitely the right choice," Hunter said.

"I was real excited on draft day when I heard my name was called by the A's. There is really not a better organization you can play for, especially as a pitcher. They have such a great track record of getting guys to the big leagues and making them better ballplayers. I couldn't be any happier."

Hunter will be given all the time he needs to work out his command issues and fulfill the promise he once displayed as the ace of Pepperdine's staff.

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