Hunter working towards San Diego

Des Moines, IA: A former top prospect in the San Diego Padres organization, 22-year-old outfielder Cedric Hunter has started to emerge as the player that San Diego's brass thought he could be.

Sent back to San Antonio for a repeat trip through the Texas League this spring, Cedric Hunter hit .308 over 71 games for the Missions to earn his first extended taste of Triple-A. He also posted his highest on-base percentage (.375) since his rookie league season, which shows that Hunter's approach to hitting has improved.

"I've worked on the outer half, trying to hit the ball the other way on the ground with hard line drives," Hunter said. "I've been a lot better at that, while cutting down on the fly balls. I swung at a lot of pitches to get myself out last year.

"Making adjustments is what it's all about. I'm trying to figure out my swing and stay consistent. I'm seeing a lot more off-speed pitches in Triple-A than Double-A. Know your count and don't miss your pitch. I continue to learn more about my zone and how to swing at pitches I need to hit."

Hunter got a head-start on an important 2010 campaign by performing well in the Arizona Fall League.

"I got an opportunity to go down there last year and swung the bat pretty well and played good defense," he said. "It's the best of the best down there. I faced a lot of big names and it was fun to see what they've got. It's just like being in the big leagues."

Although Hunter's power game has yet to return from his 2008 season at Lake Elsinore – a summer in which he also tallied a minor-league best 186 hits – he's doing plenty of other things well.

Prior to his promotion from Double-A, Hunter was having an impressive June with a 13/5 BB/K ratio, along with eight of his 30 hits going for extra-bases. His outfield defense continues to be stellar. In Portland, he's drawn 11 walks to just nine strikeouts over 174 at-bats.

During the Beavers' current road trip, Hunter is 4-for-7 with three doubles and a homer against the Iowa Cubs. He continues to make great contact, with just one strikeout in his last 29 at-bats.

"It's going great for me," he said. "I started off in Double-A and swung it real well there, enough to get called up to Triple-A midway through the season. I started off hot, hit a little cold front, and have gotten it back on track. I can't ask for much more right now – I'm playing a lot and the defense is solid.

The next month of the Triple-A season could very well decide Hunter's future with the Padres and where he'll be in 2011 and beyond. If he's not on San Diego's 40-man roster prior to next season, he'll be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft.

Hunter would just as soon remain a part of the organization that selected in the third round of the 2006 draft.

"I don't really know where my position is right now," he said. "This is my 40-man year, so I'm doing all I can to make that. Hopefully they will see what I'm doing and I will get that call-up. But for right now, being in Triple-A at 22 is not bad and this is a good situation for me. But it's every man's dream to make it to the big leagues.

"They're playing great up there right now and are a good team with a great manager. Everybody wants to be up there. I'll keep playing hard and see what happens."

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