For a lot of players, spring training is just a month and a half of workouts and meaningless exhibition games in preparation for the season. But for some, spring training may be their last big opportunity to land a job at the big league level.
That may be the case for Phillies outfielder Cedric Hunter. 28 years old next Thursday, Hunter made his major league debut early in 2011 with the Padres but has been stuck at the Double- and Triple-A level since. Last year in the Braves’ organization, Hunter hit .295/.386/.495 with Double-A Mississippi and .283/.331/.420 with Triple-A Gwinnett, racking up double digits in both home runs and stolen bases. Not bad, especially for someone who isn’t even 30 yet.
But Hunter reached Triple-A at the age of 19 and was still there at 27. That plateau can be a turn-off for many teams. However, the Phillies took a chance and picked up Hunter in January, signing him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Facing his former team in a Grapefruit League exhibition on Friday, Hunter turned the Phillies’ 11-9 deficit into a walk-off 12-11 victory with a three-run home run off of minor league pitcher Jason Hursh. Hunter was able to take five plate appearances on Friday as starting outfielder Aaron Altherr injured his wrist on a diving play. Gotta take advantage of the opportunities when they come.
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