Bulls lose key bat as Hunt signs with Reds
Junior outfielder Stephen Hunt, who led the Bulls in most batting statistics this season, won't be back for his senior year as he signed Sunday with the Cincinnati Reds, who had drafted him in the 15th round.
"It was a tough decision because I have to leave a lot of my best friends," said Hunt, who had team highs in RBIs (44), hits (67), stolen bases (13) and slugging percentage (.509) while tying for the team lead with seven home runs.
Hunt, a Tampa Jesuit graduate, will report to the Reds' minor-league complex in Arizona on Wednesday and will go from there to Cincinnati's rookie-league team in Billings, Montana, where he expects to be a teammate of former Bulls catcher Trey Manz. Hunt declined to say how much his signing bonus was, but said he had called USF coach Lelo Prado to tell him he would not be back for his senior year.
"I just wanted to thank (the coaches) for everything -- I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in without them," Hunt said.
Hunt is the third player from USF's 2011 roster to opt for a pro contract, joining signee Kyle Ryan, a left-handed pitcher from Auburndale (12th round, Tigers) and junior catcher Eric Sim (27th round, Giants).
Hunt said his first look with the Reds will be as a hitter, playing in the outfield and at first base, but if that doesn't work out, the franchise is also interested in trying him as a left-handed pitcher. He pitched in 24 games as a freshman, but only threw one inning this past season.