When the LA Angels drafted Torii Hunter Jr. Out of Notre Dame in the 23rd round of the 2016 baseball amateur draft they knew he was a player with potential.
Hunter Jr. knows more about Anaheim and the LA Angels than most prospects being that his dad Torii Hunter Sr. Spent five years in Anaheim while Hunter Jr. was growing up. The Angels hoped that some of his dad’s skills were passed down to Hunter Jr.
So far Hunter Jr has had an up and down three years in the Angels minor league system. Right now he begins his second season in Single-A at Inland Empire after finishing the last two month there in 2018. Hunter Jr has shown good speed and defense so far, but his hitting still has yet to be consistent.
Hunter Jr. Has started the year off mediocre in Inland Empire in 2019, but he has shown signs of improvement. In a recent game against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Hunter Jr came up with a chance to do some damage as the bases were loaded.
On the first pitch Hunter Jr. Swung out of his shoes as he looked like he was trying to hit the ball to Canada. However, he was patient from that point forward working the count to 2-2. Then Hunter Jr. Unleashed on the next pitch and drove it into right-center. When the dust from Hunter Jr.’s feet had settled he had a bases-clearing triple to make the score 4-1 in favor of Inland Empire.
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Later in the game Hunter Jr drew two walks again showing good patience. So far Hunter Jr. Is hitting .236 with one homer and 18 RBIs with eight stolen bases and a .352 OBP. He is also an above average defender as well. However, with minimal power numbers it really hurts his chances of being looked at as a player with major league potential at the moment.
Hunter says that he is just trying to keep learning and improving.
“I’m starting to see the ball better and trying to be more disciplined at the plate,” Hunter Jr said. “I’m just trying to do this on a more consistent basis. I’m trying to figure out the holes in my swing so I can work on them, and just trying to become a better hitter.”
As many people who follow the Angels know Hunter Jr was also a very good football player earning a scholarship to Notre Dame University as a wide receiver. He was playing fairly well in 2016 when a vicious hit was delivered on Hunter Jr as he went over the middle in an attempt to catch a pass for the Irish against the University of Texas.
He was knocked out cold and was out of the line-up for more than a month. At season’s
end Hunter Jr decided to hang up his football cleats and pursue baseball with the Angels who had drafted him earlier that year.
Now after having three somewhat mediocre seasons Hunter Jr is still committed to making to the big leagues and was invited to Spring Training this season. While there he got the opportunity to get tips from a very special family friend.
"“When I went to Spring Training this year it was a great opportunity for me to see what I need to do to make it to the next level. Got to see some great pitching and also watch guys who have already made it to the majors play and I could pick their brains to find out what I need to do to get there,” Hunter Jr said. “Mike (Trout) has been very helpful to me especially this Spring. He was always giving me tips in certain situations and looking out for me sort of paying it forward, because my dad helped him so much when he was coming up.”"
Tweet from the LA Angels of Hunter Jr making a Hunteresque play. It must run in the family.
Hunter Jr hopes to be promoted to sometime this season and take another step closer to making it to the big leagues. However, he knows the way to that is by improving his game.
“I just want to continue to develop as a hitter and become a better defender and all the other stuff will take care of itself. The promotions and everything else will all fall into place if I continue to focus on being better as a player,” Hunter Jr said.
Hopefully in a couple of years we will see Hunter Jr roaming the outfield in Anaheim with Mike Trout by his side.