We continue to work our way backwards in time through Philadelphia Phillies history from 1971-2019, and today we move on to the position player not previously covered in the series who features the combination of little impact on the 2016 Phillies and who is unlikely to have an impactful big-league career.
In the third round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft the San Diego Padres made Georgia high schooler Cedric Hunter their choice. Sent to the Arizona Fall League that year, Hunter became an All-Star and was named the AFL Most Valuable Player.
By 2009, Hunter had blazed through the Padres minor league system to become their top overall prospect and was added to their 40-man roster following the 2010 season.
The following spring, Hunter made the Padres roster for Opening Day at age 23. That introduction to Major League Baseball would not last long as he only stayed with the team for 10 days.
On that Opening Day of March 31, 2011, the Padres and Saint Louis Cardinals battled into extra-innings at Busch Stadium tied at 3-3. With two outs in the top of the 11th inning, back-to-back singles by Chase Headley and Cameron Maybin and a Cardinals error gave San Diego the go-ahead run, with Maybin advancing to second base on the error.
Hunter was then sent in to pinch-run for Maybin by Padres manager Bud Black. When Nick Hundley then singled, Hunter raced home with his first-ever run scored and San Diego went on to win by 5-3.
Two days later, Hunter received his first chance at the plate. Pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Clayton Richard in the top of the 7th inning on April 2, 2011 with the Padres leading the Cardinals by 9-3, Hunter drew a two-out walk against Cards’ reliever Mitchell Boggs.
Three days later at Petco Park, Hunter was given another shot at the plate. With the Padres leading the visiting San Francisco Giants on April 5, 2011 by a 3-1 score, Black sent him up to pinch-hit for starting pitcher Aaron Harang in the bottom of the 6th inning.
Facing right-hander Guillermo Mota, the lefty-hitting Hunter lined a first-pitch base hit to center field. He would appear in just three more games, going 0-3. Overall he saw action in center field twice, was used as a pinch-hitter four times, and pinch-ran once. He went 1-4 with a run scored and a walk.
Returned to the minors in the second week of April, Hunter would never play in San Diego again. He spent the balance of that 2011 season at Triple-A Tucson and was then placed on waivers after the season, where he was selected by the Oakland Athletics.
On April 4, 2012, Hunter was shipped by the A’s to Saint Louis in a conditional deal. He would play that 2012 season at Triple-A Memphis in the Cardinals’ system. That began a process during which he bounced through five organizations between October 2011 and late 2015.
Granted free agency in November 2015, Hunter was signed by the Phillies on January 12, 2016 and invited to spring training. There he led the Phillies in runs scored and was among the club leaders in extra-base hits, home runs, and RBIs.
The solid Grapefruit League performance earned Hunter a spot on the rebuilding Phillies roster for Opening Day. Not only that, but manager Pete Mackanin made him the starter in left field.
On that Opening Day in Cincinnati on April 4, 2016, Hunter went 0-4 in his first regular season game with the Phillies during a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the host Reds.
On April 7, 2016 in the finale of that opening series at Great American Ball Park against the Reds, Hunter registered his first hit with the Phillies and had his best game with the team.
Batting sixth that day in a lineup that still included former 2008 World Series heroes Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, Hunter led off the top of the 4th inning by blasting a 2-1 pitch from Reds’ starter Robert Stephenson out deep on a line to right field to put the Phillies on top by a 2-1 score.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, the host Reds would begin to pile it on. With Jay Bruce drilling two home runs and driving in five, Cincy opened up a 10-4 lead by the top of the 8th inning. With one out, Hunter worked a walk off Reds’ reliever Keyvius Sampson. Ruiz followed with a long home run down the left field line, scoring Hunter ahead of him.
He would deliver another hit the next day in a loss to the host New York Mets at Citi Field. But then Hunter would register just one more in his Phillies and, to date, big-league career.
Getting his first start at Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies home opener on April 11, 2016 against his former San Diego club, Hunter went hitless in three plate appearances. At home on April 15 against the Washington Nationals he produced his lone hit at the South Philly ballpark.
Hunter would receive seven starts in left field and two in right field over the first two weeks. He was used as a pinch-hitter by Mackanin in four other games, seeing action in each of the club’s first 13 games.
Shipped out to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Hunter enjoyed a solid minor league season, hitting .294 over 350 plate appearances across 98 games with 10 homers and 53 RBIs.
Granted free agency in October, Hunter was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for amphetamines in late November. He played in the Venezuelan Winter League that off-season and then signed with the Reds in April 2017.
Though he was hitting .300 with Triple-A Louisville, Hunter was released from the Cincinnati organization in late June. He would finish out that summer playing Independent ball. Hunter played in the Mexican Pacific Winter League that off-season of 2017-18 and has not been able to catch on with a big-league team over the last two years.
Hunter spent the 2019 season with Leon in the Mexican League where he had a big year, slashing .327/.402/.572 with 19 homers, 55 extra-base hits, 81 RBIs, and 80 runs scored at age 31. It is doubtful that we will ever see him playing again in Major League Baseball at this point.