Hunter went duck hunting almost every day this offseason…he would bring two dogs that he trained himself, Silas and Shaw…he described it as probably one of the worst duck hunting seasons in the history of duck hunting...Among his offseason activities is training English Springer Spaniels as upland and waterfowl hunting dogs…he works with a small number of dogs each day...The tattoo of his last name across his back-the first of more than a dozen-was featured in a Tampa Bay Times article last spring…he had it done as a freshman at Howard College and didn't tell his father about it until after the school year...Hunter was promoted directly from Double-A Montgomery for his major league debut in 2017…he received the news with roughly an hour to catch the flight…the family missed baggage check-in at the Montgomery airport by two minutes and had to drive to Birmingham for an alternate flight…he arrived at Globe Life Park in Arlington in the 2nd inning and entered the game for his debut in the 8th...Hunter and his wife, Hannah, have two sons: Easton (3) and Rawling (2)…he's pretty sure they are a righty and a lefty, and thinks they'll form a brotherly battery…the couple is expecting their first daughter in May.
Made 29 apps (8 starts) over three stints with the Rays (April 17-24, May 14 and June 30 through the end of the season)...Went 1-0 with a 3.54 ERA (28-IP, 11-ER) in 21 apps out of the bullpen and 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA (13-IP, 6-ER) in 8 starts…yielded 4 HR, all in relief, and all solo homers...Pitched to a 1.69 ERA (10.2-IP, 2-ER) in his last 10 apps starting Sep 4 and a 3.24 ERA (16.2-IP, 6-ER) in his last 15 apps (2 starts) starting Aug 11...His 8 starts came as an opener, and the Rays went 6-2 in those games…went 2 IP or fewer in all 8 starts, facing between 5-10 batters in each...The Rays won his first 4 starts, the fourth time in franchise history they won the first 4 starts of a pitcher's Rays career, following Tanyon Sturtze (7-0) in 2000-01, Bobby Witt (5-0) in 1999 and Cory Lidle (4-0) in 1999-2000…Diego Castillo (6-0) joined this list later in 2018...On July 11 vs. DET, made his first career start, a scoreless 1st inning…yielded consecutive 2-out singles, but a Victor Martinez grounder ended the frame...On Aug 2 vs. LAA, recorded a career-high 5 SO in his 13th career app (4th start)…went 2 IP, and his only baserunner allowed was a 2-out double by Justin Upton in the 1st inning…got Albert Pujols on a 1-3 groundout to end the frame, then struck out all 3 BF in the 2nd inning...On Sep 4 at TOR, recorded his first career win, retiring all 6 BF on 19 pitches spanning the 2nd and 3rd innings...Went at least 2 IP in 14 of his 24 outings with Triple-A Durham, and his season highs were 3 IP and 49 pitches.
Spent the entire season in the minors aside from a one-day stint on May 30 at TEX…made his major league debut that night, retiring Nomar Mazar -- his only batter face -- for the final out of the 8th inning... He and José Alvarado both bypassed Triple-A for their major league debuts, the first Rays to do that since Scott Kazmir in 2004... Optioned back to Montgomery after his debut… made 12 starts with the Biscuits and was promoted to Triple-A Durham on June 16…combined for a career-high 115 SO... Made 6 starts with the Bulls before making his final 13 apps of the season out of the bullpen… posted a 1.96 ERA (23-IP, 5-ER) as a reliever... Was 2-0 and did not allow a run over 4 apps in the IL postseason, helping the Bulls win the Governors' Cup.
Split the season between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery…went 9-5 with a 2.39 ERA (113-IP, 30-ER) in 21 apps (18 starts)…promoted to Montgomery at the end of May...Ranked 2nd among Rays minor leaguers in ERA, trailing Brent Honeywell (2.34), and ranked 5th with 9 wins...Eight of his 18 starts between the two levels were scoreless…yielded 2 hits or fewer in 6 of his 18 starts...Opened his Double-A career with a 14-inning scoreless streak spanning 3 starts...Twice took home Pitcher of the Week honors and did so once at each level: with Charlotte for May 9-15 and Montgomery for June 20-26...Did not pitch in July due to a broken thumb sustained on a comebacker to the mound…had thrown 6 no-hit innings on June 23 at Biloxi (Brewers) prior to the injury...Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in the Rays organization following the season.