It’s fair to say that the right fielder for the Edmonton Prospects is living up to his last name in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) this season.
Whether he’s at the plate, roaming the outfield or running the bases, Travis Hunt is constantly … well, on the hunt. And the blonde batter’s efforts are paying off.
Through 40 games and 155 at-bats for the Prospects, Hunt has a batting average of .316, 26 runs, 26 runs batted in (RBI), and he leads the team in stolen bases, with 21. The MVP of the 2019 WCBL All Star Game also leads all Edmonton outfielders in assists.
The production is not unexpected. Over his last two seasons with Benedictine University at Mesa, Hunt posted a batting average of .300 and an on-base percentage of .423 in 84 games played. In his 287 at bats with the Redhawks, he also hit 14 home runs, scored 80 runs and recorded 60 RBI.
During his first season in the WCBL, the Moreno Valley, California product also finds himself in the thick of a playoff hunt. With the regular-season schedule winding down, the Prospects are battling the Fort McMurray Giants for the final postseason berth in the Western Division.
We touched base with Hunt as he was preparing for a crucial four-game, home-and-home series between Edmonton and Fort McMurray. We posed several questions to him for the latest chapter in our 7th Inning Stretch series. Here’s what Hunt had to say:
1. What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in and why?
I believe I am completely obsessed with both aspects of the game: hitting and defense. I would have to say I take more pride in my hitting because hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in any sport and being great at it is something I strive for.
2. You are currently third in the WCBL in stolen bases and you’ve only been caught twice out of 23 attempts. What’s made you so successful in swiping bags?
The base-stealing game, to me, is another part of my game that I believe makes me a threat to opposing teams, knowing I have the capability to get into scoring position given the right jump and pitch to run on.
One tip that helps me with base stealing is having a soft focus on the pitcher. If I ever catch myself focusing too hard on the pitcher and his movements, I tend to think more and that leads to hesitation and bad jumps or, even worse, getting picked off.
3. This is your first season in the WCBL and you’re from California. Have you developed any feel for the northern Alberta rivalry between the Prospects and the Giants?
If I am being honest, I have not sensed any type of rivalry with any of the teams in our league. In my eyes, baseball is hard enough and putting that kind of focus on a so-called rivalry would bring me and my teammates out of our zone.
4. With the regular season in the home stretch and the Prospects fighting for the last playoff spot, how do you stay in the zone?
I try to be as calm and relaxed as possible, on and off the field. I feel that letting all of that emotion build up in any way would bring me out of my little world that I like to stay in.
I understand there is a chance for that playoff spot, but I, as a player, still have to prepare the way I know how and stay even-keeled in order to perform at the best of my ability for my team and the City of Edmonton.
5. Would you rather hit a walkoff homer to end the game OR make a diving catch for the last out to preserve a win?
I would much rather hit a walkoff home run to end the game, for the sheer fact that the celebration after would be much better than a diving catch to seal the win for my team.
6. Who is the funniest player on the Prospects? Which one of your Edmonton teammates makes you laugh the most?
The funniest Prospects player would be the hardest award to give, considering our whole clubhouse is full of comical people. Everyone has their own style of humour, and they all show it in different ways.
But if I had to choose one person who makes me laugh the most, it would have to be Katsu Takahashi.
7. Who has had the biggest influence on you in your baseball life, and how did they impact you?
I have had a lot of people influence me throughout my years of playing. First, I would like to bring my dad into the spotlight for not only putting me in baseball, but coaching me since I was three years old, and even helping me out until this day.
Another person I would like to acknowledge is my hitting instructor back in California, Eugene Bleecker. He helped transform me into the player I am today by allowing me to come into his training facility, which is called 108 Performance Academy and learn the way big leaguers swing and incorporate their movements into my swing.
Friends Timothy Montoya and his buddy Shea Hillenbrand (a former MLB player) both taught me a lot about the swing, as well as a huge amount about the mental aspect of baseball.
The last person I would like to shed some light on is my good friend, Ray Mota, for gracing me with the use of his batting cage in Arizona while I am out there for school. He also taught me a lot about the mental game and how to always keep the game fun.