Bucs draft pitcher named after Clemente in 12th round

July 19th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Plenty of players the Pirates have drafted over the years have been inspired by the legendary Roberto Clemente, the franchise’s face and one of baseball’s greatest humanitarians on top of being a Hall of Famer. 

But rarely are Pittsburgh’s selections named in his honor.

In the 12th round of the 2022 MLB Draft, the Pirates selected KC Hunt, a right-handed pitcher out of Mississippi State University. His background is very different from that of “The Great One,” and yet the legacy is found hidden in the initials: Kyle Clemente Hunt.

Hunt’s father, Mickey, a long time coach at KC’s alma mater of Ramapo High School (Franklin Lakes, N.J.), was the one so inspired by Clemente to bestow the name upon his youngest of three sons.

"He was my dad's favorite player and my mom had no problem with it,'' Hunt told NorthJersey.com in 2018. "I think it's cool and I've learned a lot about him over the years and it helps inspire me.''

Oh, and not to mention: The Pirates scout who oversaw Hunt? Darren Mazeroski, son of another Pirates Hall of Fame player, Bill Mazeroski.

Hunt will have a long road ahead of him to reach Pittsburgh and play in the black and yellow enmeshed so deeply with Clemente’s name. But despite only pitching 25 1/3 innings this season with Mississippi State -- a year after he helped the Bulldogs win the College World Series title -- there’s a lot that scouts are impressed by.

He pitched for the Trenton Thunder in the MLB Draft League, and given his third-place finish in Prep Baseball Report’s ranking of the league’s pitchers in its pre-Draft pitcher rankings, Hunt is clearly thought of highly. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball that has a lot of ride, and he pairs it with a 12-to-6 curveball that PBR’s data indicates drew a 59% whiff rate as part of a four-pitch mix. It gives some scouts reason to see him as a starter.

“[This summer], he showed us [that] if he has the opportunity to streamline a few things and give him a chance to play that out a little bit more instead of changing over time and in different roles, I think that may play out well for K.C.” Pirates senior director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri said. “We’ll see, but he’s been trending up and down a little bit along the way but most of all, here at the end, trending in the right direction and putting some things together.”

With a four-pitch mix, he’s believed to have starter traits, though he rarely started in college. It’s likely too early to tell exactly how he will fit in the Pirates’ plans going forward, and the club still has to officially sign the college junior.

But if he agrees to a deal, then as he works his way toward the Pirates, Hunt will be able to draw inspiration from his union with one of the most historic names in Pittsburgh history.