MadFriars' Interview: Cedric Hunter

TUCSON: OF Cedric Hunter, 23, was taken in the third round of the 2006 draft by the San Diego Padres out of out Martin Luther King High School in Lithonia, Georgia. In his first year of pro ball he had a huge year in the AZL hitting .371/.467/.484 rocketing to the top of many prospects lists.

In 2007 he played well in Low-A Fort Wayne at 19 before having another big season in with Lake Elsinore in 2008 hitting .318/.362/.442.

Hunter struggled at the next stop, AA San Antonio, for the first time in his career, ending up with a .294 on-base-percentage. Simply put, he just swung at too many bad pitches resulting in a lot of soft contact and easy ground outs to second base.

Last year Hunter bounced back hitting .308/.375/.423 for the Missions including a .299/.364/.453 in Nelson Wolff Stadium, easily the best on the team. He was promoted in mid-season to AAA Portland where a slump in July hurt his overall numbers.

This spring he came out strong which enabled him to get on the major league roster when a few injuries sidelined a few of the regulars.

The key for Hunter's progress will be the development of his secondary offensive skills; more walks, a little more gap power and stolen bases. He has made significant progress since 2010 but faces some challenges with Cameron Maybin in center on the big club and Blake Tekotte having a big year in San Antonio.

We caught up with him in mid-June in Tucson.

What has been the big reason for your success last year after you struggled in 2009?

Cedric Hunter: Just trying to get more consistent and get the ball out of the air. My game is about line drives and when I do that I have the most success.

Was one of the factors becoming more selective at the plate? I had talked to you in the past and you have such good hand-eye coordination - you can get your bat on a lot of balls - that becoming more selective on the ones you want to drive would take you to another level?

Cedric Hunter: I was trying to adjust to the pitching and learn from my mistakes. But yeah the biggest thing was getting better pitches to hit and putting a good swing on them.

I'm not having a great year right now but I'm on the right path and it will click before I'm done.

How much have you changed as a hitter over the past few years?

Cedric Hunter: A lot of little stuff, being a little taller at the plate and keeping things simple. Its all about getting to the ball quicker and hitting more line drives.

It looks like your power has increased too. Is it because you have gotten stronger?

Cedric Hunter: Maybe a little. I think the biggest reason is that I am just hitting better pitches.

Is this park a little more fun to hit in than Nelson Wolff?

Cedric Hunter: [laughs] Oh it is a lot more fun.

Take us through getting your first promotion to the big leagues, it had to catch you a little bit by surprise.

Cedric Hunter: It was a real big deal and surprising. I got sent down in spring to AAA before they called me back up. When they called me back up I was really surprised and happy.

So it was a big deal and I had a great time. Hopefully will give me more motivation to get back up, but I'm always pretty motivated to get back.

When you come back down do you find yourself trying to do too much, and getting away from your game, in an attempt to get back up?

Cedric Hunter: Maybe sometimes but I knew the situation to begin with. Buddy sat me down and told me that I would be up for awhile because some guys went on the DL.

Right now I'm just trying to get back on track and get back there.

Both you and Blake Tekotte's arm strength has improved since you came into the system. Is that all from just doing long toss.

Cedric Hunter: A lot of it is just getting time to recuperate because in high school you play year round. In high school I also hurt my arm pitching so that took awhile for it to really heal.

Its really just naturally improved.

Is consistency your big goal this year?

Cedric Hunter: Yeah, it always is. Right now I'm just focussing on getting back where I need to be. Do what I need to do to help the team win.

When you say "get back on track" what has been going wrong for you?

Cedric Hunter: Last year I really felt in the zone and its not all there mentally yet, but it will click back on.

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