Cedric Hunter Provides Organizational Depth
Ronnie Tellalian | On 02, Jul 2013
The Akron Aeros have struggled offensively lately, especially with some of their best hitters getting called up to the Columbus Clippers, but a few guys have really stepped up and performed well at the plate to help uplift the club. One of those guys is outfielder Cedric Hunter.
Drafted in the third round by the San Diego Padres in 2006, Hunter has been the prototypical career minor leaguer. He sits in the organization primarily providing depth; he is not viewed as a prospect or an up-and-comer, just a solid player giving the Indians flexibility and insurance. He has split this season between Triple-A and Double-A, hitting a combined .272/.333/.492. He brings experience to the young players on the Akron roster, and provides a rare bit of leadership. He is the only regular position player on the Aeros roster to ever play in the Major Leagues.
He made the Padres out of Spring Training back in 2011 and started the season as an outfielder off the bench for the Padres. After just five games Hunter was sent back down to the Tucson Padres and has not made it back to the Majors since then. He’s actually put up some impressive numbers over his Minor League career. He began his pro career in 2006 in the Arizona Rookie League at age 18. That first season he batted .371 and stole 17 bases. In 2008, he hit .318 for the Padres High Class-A team in the California League, and he batted .308 his first season of Double A in 2010. He has been unable to duplicate that success at the Triple-A level in four seasons since 2010. Hunter has won numerous honors in his Minor League career. In 2006 he was an Arizona League All-Star and voted league MVP, in 2008 he was California League Mid-Season All-Star, Post-Season All-Star, and High Class A All-Star.
The Indians signed Hunter to a Minor League deal in November of 2012; he had an invite to spring training, but was ultimately sent to Columbus to begin the season. In 52 games for the Clippers, Hunter hit .250 with a .305 on-base percentage and slugged .365. He was sent down to Akron when Aeros DH/1B Chun-Hsiu Chen was promoted to Columbus.
In 25 games for the Aeros Hunter seems to have found his swing again, he is hitting .295/.362/.621. He kicked off his Akron campaign with a six game hitting streak. He scored runs in five consecutive games and drove in four runs against the Bowie Baysox on May 23. He missed nearly two weeks to injury to open June, but when he returned, he came back strong. In a five game stretch beginning on June 14, Hunter earned ten hits with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. He has played like a seasoned veteran should and he has made a serious case for a recall to Columbus.
The Akron Aeros experienced somewhat of an odd week last week. They played five straight games against the Altoona Curve. In game one the Aeros defeated the Curve 3-2 and Indians pitcher Brett Meyers earned the win with a scoreless inning in the eighth. Hunter singled in the game and scored the first run of the game on a Carlos Moncrief double.
The success continued in game two with a 3-1 Aeros victory. The game only went seven innings, and Matt Packer dominated the game with a six inning performance allowing only one run. Hunter doubled, scored, and drove in a run on the game.
Akron then played Altoona in a night-night double header with both games scheduled for seven innings. It was an odd feel, almost a college atmosphere, but the seats were packed for game one, with the allure of fireworks drawing in many fans. Akron was able to make it three in a row with a game one 7-6 win. Hunter belted a home run deep into the seats in right field. He came about six inches from making it two on the night in his next at bat as he bounced one off the top of the wall in right center for a double. In all, Hunter smacked out three hits, scored two runs and drove in three.
Akron lost game two of the double header and Hunter got the rest of the night off. Akron currently holds a 39-43 record on the season, sitting them at fifth place in the Eastern League Western Division. They will look to turn things around on an eight game road trip before taking two days off for the All-Star game.
Photo: Akron Aeros