Cedric Hunter well beyond his years

Usually, high school players take a little longer to develop the habits that elevate them to legitimate prospect status. San Diego Padres prospect Cedric Hunter has shirked that thinking.

A third round pick out of Martin Luther King High School in Georgia, Cedric Hunter has been the toast of the Arizona Rookie League. While it generally takes time for any prospect to develop, Hunter has shown an advanced hitting approach at the plate from the start of the season.

"Just stick to what you have been doing and don't change," Hunter said of his success. "Don't make it a big deal. I just try and do my job. If it means getting a guy over – just do the little things to win."

The little things have equated to a 31-game on base streak to open the year – every game he has played. He leads the Arizona Rookie League in hits with 44, runs scored with 29 and sits in the top five in batting average, doubles and RBI's.

Hunter has also drawn 23 walks while striking out 14 times, numbers that belie his age. At the tender age of 18, he is accomplishing feats that college guys are struggling with. He had a six game RBI streak to open his professional career and has a .361 average over his last 24 games.

I think I am a line drive hitter and I might develop some power later on but right now a line drive hitter," Hunter expressed. "I feel the same, keep the same swing. I will develop more power but focus on hitting line drives."

A 2005 AFLAC All-American, Hunter hit .580 for his high school team with 40 hits in 69 at bats, including nine doubles, two triples, 12 homers, 28 RBI's and an amazing 49 runs scored. He also added 20 stolen bases.

Playing centerfield in Peoria, Hunter admits that the biggest adjustment hasn't come at the plate using wood bats but in the field recognizing how the ball comes off the bat.

"It is kind of different," he said. "Metal bats and wood bats are completely different. You can kind of tell with a metal bat if it is going to go short or going to go far by how it sounds but wood bats it is kind of hard to tell since everything sounds the same."

While some questioned his speed coming out of high school and wondered whether he would have the range to play centerfield, Hunter scoffs at the naysayers.

"I have the speed to play centerfield. You just ignore (what people say) and do what you have to do. I try to get to anything I can."

He has split time between playing center and being the designated hitter. The Padres want him to rest since he also pitched in high school, thus giving his arm a breather.

Ironically, the Padres weren't a team that Hunter believed had any interest in him and came away surprised when they did pick him.

"It was a surprise because I didn't know they were going to take me," Hunter admitted. "They called my name and I was kind of in shock.

"They came to a couple of my games but a lot of other teams talked to me more than they did and I did a lot of workouts at the stadium but they did not invite me so I didn't know they were interested."

With his seamless transition into the professional ranks, the Padres are smiling about their savvyness.


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