Reader David J. sends in this email about Padres prospect Cedric Hunter:
I know you, as well as many others, were once high on Ced Hunter. He was so athletic coming out of school and had that killer debut in Arizona. He was solid enough, but not remarkable in the MWL and at Elsinore, and seemed pretty viable.
Then 2009 happened...
Now that he's rebounding this year, I'm trying to figure out what to make of him.
Offensively, he doesn't strike out and has finally decided it's not a disgrace to take a walk (it looks like he might set his new career high in walks by mid-July). He's got awesome hand-eye coordination and his quick swing really lets him wait to go after his pitches - something he seems to have figured out somewhere between August and May. But, he has developed little power (even accounting for being a lefty at Wolff Stadium) and seems fairly unlikely to at this point. If he can maintain his new-found patience at the plate, I guess he profiles decently in the second spot in a lineup.
Defensively, he's probably not good enough to play CF - especially given Jed Hoyer's new focus on players who are built for Petco Park. He's quick, but he's not fast; his arm is neutral, his routes are not remarkable, and he is still prone to lapses in the field. Add to that his inexplicable regression on the basepaths after two years of trying to prove he might have some tiny amount of instincts as a base-stealer...
I just don't know what to make. Are his skill sets finally catching up to his tools, or is he a tease who is destined to be a tweener?
Hunter is hitting .305/.375/.414 this year for Double-A San Antonio. His power is still unimpressive as David points out, but his plate discipline is much better this year, with a 31/21 BB/K in 266 at-bats. He's repeating the league, which is a negative, but he's still just 22 years old, which means he isn't at a bad spot on the age curve relative to other Double-A players.
I used to be very high on Hunter, but at this point I don't know what to think either and don't have any genuine advice to offer David. My guess is that Hunter will never develop much additional power, and that he's something like a "natural" .280 hitter who can hit anywhere from .300 to .260 in any given year depending on luck and BABIP.Most of his value will be tied into his batting average unless his power unexpected spikes or unless he gets his stolen base percentage back to a reasonable level. Right now he looks like a possible reserve outfielder to me, but there's still a chance he could get beyond that.