Padres Prospect Interview: Jeremy Hunt

Fort Wayne, IN-- First baseman Jeremy Hunt, 23, is the type of player that you always root for; a late round draft pick stuck with the proverbial tag of being "old for the league", but he has earned every bit of playing time given to him.

After as successful two-year career at Villanova, Hunt was selected in the 28th round by the Padres as a college senior, which meant that he was given plane fare to Arizona with the understanding that if he performed he could continue playing baseball, if not it was time to start to use his Economics degree.

Hunt was able to put off a future of derivates and number crunching for awhile by having a big year in the Arizona League, hitting 323/.423/.500, with 16 extra base hits in 164 at bats with a 28/37 BB/K ratio on the team that won that championship, earning him a roster spot on this year's Fort Wayne Wizards.

Although he has at times performed well in the Midwest League, job security for a 23-year-old low-round draft pick is always tenuous – you better perform. This year he's played multiple positions with the Wizards and is hitting .251/.335/.409 [statistics through Sunday] which is going to have to pick up, especially the power numbers, if he is going to have a chance in the future.

You had a pretty good year last year in Arizona and a pretty good career at Villanova, [senior year .385/.481/.743] so had did you last until the 28th-round in the 2006 draft?

Jeremy Hunt: Basically, I didn't have a breakout year my junior year and my sophomore year I hardly played at all [editor's note, junior year he hit .324/.416/.457]. Villanova saw me working out at a state championship for JUCO and took a chance with me. I had decent numbers, but our field at Villanova is not known for being great for power hitters.

You're also playing in the northeast which had to affect how many times scouts got to see you play.

Jeremy Hunt: Yeah, that didn't help either. My junior year I had good, but not great numbers. My senior year, especially in the second half I really started to break loose where I put up pretty much all my numbers. I wasn't expecting top ten rounds, but I was hoping somewhere in the teens.

But you got drafted and were given an opportunity to show what you can do.

Jeremy Hunt: Yeah, I got in the door which is what I wanted.

When you first came up, we weren't sure where you were going to play in Fort Wayne. We've noticed that you have been rotating between first, third and DH. Can you also play some outfield as well?

Jeremy Hunt: Earlier in my career, sophomore year I played left field.

You also pitched a little bit in college didn't you?

Jeremy Hunt: Actually, I was supposed to go to Maryland as a pitcher but ended up more in the field. My senior year in high school I was pretty much known as a pitcher. It wasn't until I went to Villanova that I really became just a hitter.

So it seems that playing over at third base shouldn't be that tough for you since you have the arm to make the throws.

Jeremy Hunt: Oh yeah, it's just getting used to the footwork and the angles.

How long have you been playing third base? In the past we've read that you only played first base, maybe a little outfield.

Jeremy Hunt: Last time I played third base was in high school, which was about five years ago. It's just like first base the only difference is that you have to make that throw.

So how did it come up that you were going to play third? Did you ask to play there or did the team put you over there?

Jeremy Hunt: We had a couple of guys go down and I guess that I looked all right over there. I'm just getting comfortable over there and getting used to it.

So someone like yourself whose trying to do everything possible to make it to the big leagues obviously wants to play as many positions as you can to have the best opportunity to make it. How do you go about lobbying to play different positions?

Jeremy Hunt: Actually in spring training I was on them to give me some looks in the outfield and I had Jonesy [Padres roving infield instructor Gary Jones] give me some looks just so I could get some more opportunities, because we have some pretty good first basemen in the organization.

My bat is going to be what carries me, the more places that I can play is only going to help me. It's something I want to work on this off-season is to get a little lighter and more agile.

You've been in and out of the lineup this year. Has there been some nagging injuries for you this year?

Jeremy Hunt: A little. When I first got up here they said I was going to play in two out of seven games. When the opportunity came up to play third I was able to slide into that position. I've had kind of a nagging ankle injury that I had in spring training. Just getting comfortable is the big thing.

You made a big jump from the Arizona to the Midwest League. I think only two or three guys from that team made Fort Wayne out of spring training. What is the biggest difference you see in the pitching?

Jeremy Hunt: They tend to be around the plate much more, and they can throw their breaking balls for strikes. It's completely different; you would see guys that were phenoms that could throw 95. We faced three guys last year who were 97 to 100. Some days they knew where the ball was going, others they didn't. I also got to face Ben Sheets on a rehab assignment.

It all comes down to just being comfortable. Staying back on the ball and hitting it and trying to not do too much.

What is the biggest thing you need to work on to move up the ladder?

Jeremy Hunt: My defense, getting more comfortable at different positions. Being more consistent at the plate; they told me it was my bat that is going to take me higher.

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