When you hear the name Torii Hunter spoken in Anaheim many remember the great impact he had on the LA Angels when he played here from 2008 to 2012. Hunter helped the Angels to 2 AL West titles, but more importantly became a great mentor for a young Mike Trout.
Torii Hunter has since retired and now does broadcasts for his orignal team the Minnesota Twins, but his son Torii Hunter Jr. is in the LA Angels organization. Hunter Jr. was a member of the Notre Dame football team as a wide receiver From 2013 to 2015 leading the Irish in receptions in 2015 with 38 catches for 521 yards and three touchdowns.
However, a vicious hit early in the 2016 season against Michigan where Hunter Jr. suffered a severe concussion got him to reassess playing football. So Hunter Jr decided to look at the sport his dad played so well and accepted the Angels offer to sign with them after being drafted in the 23rd round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft.
In 2018 Hunter split time between Burlington and Inland Empire hitting .264 with two homers and 28 RBIs while hitting .264. He stole 29 bases and had a .339 OBP. Hunter Jr did enough to be promoted to Inland Empire for the final two weeks of the season and Halo Hangout was able to catch up with him after his final home game of the season for the 66’ers.
“The hit had a lot to do with me giving up football because of that concussion. After that I started to give baseball a lot of thought,” said Hunter Jr about his decision to quit football. “I had a couple of other injuries toward the end of the season, so I decided to go the baseball route and preserve my body for longevity.”
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Hunter Jr started out his minor league career in 2017 hitting .351 in 52 games in Rookie Ball in Orem. Hunter Jr’s game is all about speed as he has only hit three homers in the minors in two seasons. However, he has scored 111 runs and stolen 42 bases and his OBP was .370. So going from the big-time of Notre Dame football to the somewhat obscurity off the minor leagues was a big change for Hunter Jr, but he said he has been able to adjust.
“Definitely the lifestyle is really different being a big-time school like Notre Dame and being treated like a pro there. You go to the nicest hotels, taking chartered planes everywhere. You don’t have eight hour bus rides. It took a little bit of adjustment,” Hunter Jr said. “I’m here now and I have learned how to adjust, my family has learned how to adjust and I’m glad to be here.”
Hunter Jr. Is married to Sports Illustrated model Selina Bell, who was his high school sweetheart and they now have one child. There is a logjam in the outfield right now for the Angels as Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Kole Calhoun are all under contract for 2019, with Trout signed through 2020 and Upton signed through 2022. In addition Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, and Jordyn Adams all are high draft picks who are in the Angels system with Adell and Marsh being ahead of Hunter Jr right now.
“I love being up here so far. I’ve played with a lot of these guys for two years now and we joke around and have fun together,” Hunter Jr. Said. “We got out every day and play hard. We do our job and try to keep improving each game.”
Hunter Jr., plays a different, but yet similar style of game to his father Torii Hunter Sr. His goal is to get on bas and make things happen with his legs which his father did well, but the difference is that Hunter Jr., has not shown much power which was always a big part of his father’s game. However, the hustle and getting on base were two things that the senior Hunter always tried to do, as well as playing excellent Gold Glove caliber defense. Hunter Jr is trying to work on these things and it is a work in progress he says.
“I learned a lot on how to play the game right by watching my father and how he played,” Hunter Jr. Said. “Watching him play taught me a lot on what kind of work ethic is needed to be successful. ”
As far as making it to the major leagues Hunter Jr. Knows he still has a ways to go, but he hopes to get there one day soon.
“If I continue to improve hopefully I will get a chance to move up,” Hunter Jr. said. Honestly though I know I need to keep developing and doing the right things to get called up. My goal is to one day be in the majors.Thats everyone’s goal in the minors.”
Here’s to the newest Hunter with this one being a junior good luck and we hope to see you in Anaheim in the future.