Padres' Prospect Interview: Jeremy Hunt

If it wasn't for a spell of dehydration in the middle of the desert that hospitalized, Jeremy Hunt could have secured an Arizona League MVP. He was that good during his first season in the San Diego Padres' system.

Hunt hit .323 with the AZL Padres over 45 games and he swatted .444 during the month of July. He ended the year with five homers and 32 RBI's before a late season call up to Eugene. He homered twice in six games for the Ems to end the year.

Talk about the season you had in Arizona.

Jeremy Hunt: I was doing pretty well. I did a lot better over the first half.

There was a stretch in August that you missed a couple of games – was that injury related?

Jeremy Hunt: I had a heat stroke. It gets pretty hot out here. About a week leading up to it I felt it and it finally caught up with me and I ended up in the hospital that night. I am fine now.

I just had to make sure I was well hydrated out there and my average picked back up.

I would like to keep my first half stats. They look pretty good. I think I was hitting close to .400 with four homer runs.

It was weird. The heat just started to get to me and I felt dizzy and actually blacked out in one game.

The night time games are a lot better but we still practice during the day.

Let's get back on a positive note and talk about the month of July. What was going right that saw you hit the snot out of the ball all month, swatting well over .400?

Jeremy Hunt: Just getting used to the wood. I pretty much picked up where I left off in college. I was just seeing the ball well and making contact. Things were working out for me.

Obviously as a senior that is a reason to drop in the MLB Draft but did you expect to last until the 28th round?

Jeremy Hunt: I really did not expect to go that low. If you look at my statistics and the ballpark I played in and the players around me – I got a lot of honors from the East Coast Regional and local honors and was actually hoping to go a little higher than I did. I wasn't expecting top ten but somewhere between. It is all right though. I just want to get my foot in the door and start my professional career.

Were you surprised that the Padres came after you?

Jeremy Hunt: I knew they had interest in me but the teams that had me in for pre-draft workouts were the Yankees and the Cardinals. I was a little surprised but I love San Diego and the west coast.

You were hitting .500 off left-handed pitching at one point. Obviously, as a right-handed hitter you can see the ball better but is it just that?

Jeremy Hunt: I love left-handers. I can see the ball better and get better extension off them. Right-handers – it depends on the pitcher. Any day that I am on I can hit anybody.

You hit 15 home runs with five more in Peoria. Is your game based on power or are you focused on the gaps and whatever leaves the park is the bonus?

Jeremy Hunt: The parks we play in out here are pretty large. There are times I will kill the ball and it will still be caught. I hit a 430-foot triple off the Giants; there ballpark is huge. I would like to stay in the future that will be my trademark as more of a power hitter. I also try and hit for average as much as possible. With two strikes I will choke up and try and hit it somewhere instead of taking the monster hack to hit it over the fence.

One of the things you had in college that I noticed you applied was patience at the plate. Now, you come to the Padres' organization and they stress being patiently aggressive and aggressively patient. Has that played into your game?

Jeremy Hunt: Yes, I think so. Basically, I try to hit a pitch I know I can handle. I try and analyze a pitchers' pitches before I get to the plate so I know how they break in the zone. If it is a pitch in my zone I will hit it and if not I will wait and hope to get the pitch I can do something with later on.

Let's talk a little bit your defense. How good is it?

Jeremy Hunt: I definitely make all the routine plays. I have a little of range in which I can use my feet and block balls. The best thing I do is probably picking balls at first. I used to play third base before they moved me at Villanova because of need. I hope in the future to expand my positions and play third base and the outfield also. More options down the road.

Talk about working with guys like Rayner Contreras and Felix Carrasco on the infield.

Jeremy Hunt: I loved working with those guys. It is a different experience out here. First off, most of these guys speak primarily Spanish and it is actually helping me since I am one semester away from graduating since I transferred and Spanish is one of the courses I have to take. It is working in my favor.

The guys are great. I get to work with new guys and get to learn a bunch of different things from them.

Has anyone out there surprised you with how well they have played out in the desert?

Jeremy Hunt: There is one guy who coems to mind actually. The Brewers first round pick (Jeremy Jeffress).

We had Ben Sheets down there for a rehab assignment and he has a nasty hook. He wouldn't throw me a fastball for a strike! Once he left the game than they brought in (Jeffress) who was throwing 99 to 101 against us. I saw some fastballs then.

The talent in the Arizona League – they have a ton of guys that can throw hard. You come from college where you don't see many guys who can throw 95-plus. We have guys here who throw 95 regularly. It is completely different. It is helpful too with my reactions just by seeing it.

The scary part is that some of those guys who are throwing that hard can't even control it.

Jeremy Hunt: That is a problem. I actually got hit in the chin one game. It just grazed it but yea…Occasionally you will have a ball that hits you or goes over your head and you have to get back into the box and just do what you can.

What about guys on your own team that may have surprised you?

Jeremy Hunt: We have a lot of guys with good power. A guy like Felix who can hit from both sides.

Luis Durango – he is as quick as lightning. He almost reminds me of a softball player when he hits lefty – the way he actually runs in the batter's box and slaps at the ball. It is weird how quick he is and just slaps balls that you would think are routine outs and he beats them out.

You won the Championship – that had to be pretty exciting.

Jeremy Hunt: It was definitely exciting. I was actually hoping we would win the second half so we wouldn't have the Championship Game.

Were you a little bit disappointed that you weren't promoted to Eugene sooner than you were?

Jeremy Hunt: Yea, originally, since I was a four-year college guy. I originally thought I would be promoted if I showed myself well. I guess they had me down here for need because they needed a powerful first baseman down here. I was actually hoping I got promoted where it was a little bit cooler. I had been playing in Philadelphia the last two years. My blood is a little thicker than for down there.

It was still a great experience. I got to play a lot. Plus, I get to see all these pitchers, even though they are wild. They throw gas and most have nasty breaking stuff to go with it.

There is the sense as a solid first baseman you can help some of the younger guys out – for instance, a guy like Carrasco who can get a little wild with his throws, you can help him out by being a balancing factor.

Jeremy Hunt: I try to pick the guys up whenever I can. If they make a bad throw either scoop it or get down the line and tag the guy. I try to help them as much as I can.

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