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Hunter set to tackle first Draft with Mariners

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Scott Hunter spent the past three years searching the globe for baseball talent as an international scout for the Mariners. And now that he's taking over a new role as the club's director of amateur scouting -- in charge of running the MLB Draft that begins Monday -- he says that wide focus has helped narrow his vision of what to look for from young players.

"I understand that tools get you to the big leagues, but makeup keeps you there in my mind," the 41-year-old said Thursday while taking a break from the Mariners' Draft room.

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SEATTLE -- Scott Hunter spent the past three years searching the globe for baseball talent as an international scout for the Mariners. And now that he's taking over a new role as the club's director of amateur scouting -- in charge of running the MLB Draft that begins Monday -- he says that wide focus has helped narrow his vision of what to look for from young players.

"I understand that tools get you to the big leagues, but makeup keeps you there in my mind," the 41-year-old said Thursday while taking a break from the Mariners' Draft room.

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"It's athletes, it's tools and the thing I've learned in the international world from Eddy Toledo, who has been in the game 40-some years and signed Nelson Cruz, he said you have to walk away from the park and make sure they have makeup.

"The defining factor in all of this is if they want to play and love to play. That's something I've tried to stress to our group. We want athletes, we want tools, but we also want baseball players."

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For Hunter, that means drafting youngsters who understand their big day next week is only the beginning of the journey.

"The ultimate goal is not the finish line of being drafted," he said. "That's a starting point. We want to get these guys to the big leagues and be part of something bigger than themselves and hopefully that's winning in Seattle."

The Mariners have the 17th pick in the first round and 55th selection in the second, which will both take place Monday. Rounds 3-10 are Tuesday, with the final 30 rounds coming Wednesday.

Hunter, who replaced Tom McNamara last September as the director of amateur scouting, played 10 years in the Minors before becoming a coach and then scout in the Mets organization. He was hired by the Mariners in 2014.

Mariners seek return on top-pick investment

The former outfielder said he'll draw on all his background in his new position.

"I've been very fortunate in that I had the opportunity to go through a long recruiting process for football and baseball [as a kid growing up in Philadelphia}," he said. "I had a lengthy negotiation when I was in high school. I played 10 years and anything that ever could have happened to a Minor Leaguer probably did to me.

"Waivers, trades, 40-man, being a top-10 prospect to going to my fourth Minor League city in six months. Then as an employee on the other side, I've touched a lot of areas. I coached a little bit, scouted an area, cross-checked, did some national work. And the best thing helping me coming back is seeing the international world where it's bare-boned scouting, seeing kids from different cultures where this is all they have ,and trying to project a kid at 15 to guess what they'll be at 22-23."

And now that he's spent the past year personally scouting the top 100 prospects on the Mariners' Draft board in every corner of the country?

"I think for all the guys," he said, "as we get closer to Draft day, it's like we're approaching Christmas Eve for baseball people."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

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