After being drafted three times, lefthanded pitcher Kyle Hunter decided the third time was the charm. In 2011, he signed with the Mariners after being drafted in the 31st round out of Kansas State University. The first time he was drafted was out of high school in 2008 in the 33rd round by the Tampa Bay Rays. He was also chosen in 2010 in the 43rd round by the New York Yankees. Last week, Hunter spent two days with Tacoma before coming back to the Travelers.
What was your thinking each time you were drafted?
Out of high school, it was a draft and follow situation. Tampa Bay watched me throughout the summer, and it didn’t work out. The Yankees didn’t talk to me too much so I decided to go back for my junior year. When Seattle drafted me, I was a junior but one of the older ones in my class. I decided to go ahead and get my professional career started.
Raised in Galesburg, Ill., what made you decide to go to K-State?
It is in a good baseball conference and has a good athletic program. When I went there, I really liked the town.
How many pitches do you have?
I always had a fastball, change-up and curveball since I was 12-13 years old. I started messing around with a cutter in 2012 in the bullpen.
Besides being a lefty, what do the scouts like about you?
They say I had three pitches I could throw for strikes. I also can change speeds and keep hitters off-balance.
You’ve been a starter, but now are a reliever. Which do you like best?
I loved starting, but at the same time I like being a reliever. I can pitch back-to-back days or take one day off and pitch the next day. I’ll do whatever I need to do to get to the Big Leagues.
You spent the fall of 2014 and 2016 playing in Venezuela. How was that?
It was so cool, and they treat you like major leaguers. You have a celebrity status from the fans.
Besides the Big Leagues, what are your goals?
I’m getting married in the off-season and will want to start a family. I want to pass my baseball intelligence and passion for the game onto my kids.
Will you get your degree and what is your major?
I’ve been working on it in the off-season online through Kansas State. My major is sociology/criminology because when I was a kid I loved cops and robbers. I wanted to do FBI stuff.
What else do you do in the off-season?
I have a new puppy and will be training it. I also was a substitute teacher for special needs kids and loved it.
What do you do on your days off?
I take my puppy (golden retriever) on extended walks in the dog park. My fiancée is also here with me since she can work remotely for United Healthcare.