Lost in the Blake Beavan and Michael Main hype from the 2007 draft, Tommy Hunter has quietly moved through the minor leagues faster than anyone else from that stellar draft.
The 54th overall pick out of the University of Alabama made three starts for the Texas Rangers late last season, going 0-2 with a 16.36 ERA. While his short debut season didn’t produce much, the learning experience has clearly helped bring him along in his development.
The 2009 version of Tommy Hunter is nothing like the rookie the Rangers saw last season.
Two spot starts have netted the Rangers two quality starts and an era of 3.86 with a respectable WHIP of 1.46. He has a very hard luck record of 0-1 thanks to an anemic Rangers offense, but that’s a different article for a different time.
Hunter has displayed an average fastball made even better by plus secondary pitches, allowing him to keep hitters off balance. One can only hope Derek Holland has been watching Hunter on the mound. While Holland has better overall stuff, Hunter has shown an ability to pitch at the major league level.
He commands the strike zone with quality ptiches and plus secondary pitches. He has a big time pitcher presence on the mound and works quickly—everything a major league pitcher should be. Are you watching this Derek?
In an unusual occurrence, at least for the Rangers anyway, Hunter is also an indication of the starting pitching depth Jon Daniels and the Rangers scouts have accumulated over the past few seasons.
With injuries forcing the Rangers to use the kids a little earlier than expected, the Rangers now have a very good problem they must work out. When Matt Harrison and eventually Brandon McCarthy return from the DL, who gets the boot out of the rotation?
The way Tommy Hunter is pitching right now, would he be an upgrade over Brandon McCarthy? Maybe, but the Rangers will need to see good pitching from Hunter before making that call.
The bad news for Hunter is he can’t fly under the radar anymore. Now it’s time to pitch against teams with quality scouting reports on the young right-hander. Established starters are usually tested the second and third times through the order. The good ones make the right adjustments and continue to pitch well.
Young starters are usually tested after their first couple of appearances when teams have an accurate scouting report. Just like the vets in the second time through the order, the good rookies make the right adjustments and establish themselves.
Hunter deserved the win Sunday night against the Padres, but the way he pitched makes him next in a long line of young starters that should make the Rangers a good team to watch for quite some time.