A's Break Another Signing Record; Ink Hunter

Hunter was a consensus first round talent.

Not since the Walter Haas era have the Oakland A's and record-breaking contracts been mentioned in the same sentence. But for the second time in one season, the A's have signed a highly touted right-handed pitcher for a record-breaking bonus. The first record-breaker was Michael Inoa. On Friday, the A's announced that they had inked seventh-round pick Brett Hunter to a record total for that round.

Even before Friday, there were very few organizations around baseball that could boast as many outstanding minor league pitching prospects as the Oakland A's. With the addition of right-hander Brett Hunter, the A's may now have separated themselves from the rest of baseball in terms of minor league pitching talent.

Hunter was the A's seventh round pick and he signed for a reported $1.1 million, which would be the highest bonus ever given to a seventh-round pick. Before the start of the 2008 collegiate season, Hunter, a junior at Pepperdine University, was projected to be a top half of the first round pick. His draft stock fell during the season, however, when he missed a significant amount of time with elbow and forearm soreness.

Those injuries allowed the A's to wait until the first pick of their second day of drafting to select Hunter. The A's then spent the summer watching Hunter pitch for the Team USA collegiate squad to determine if he was back to 100 percent healthy. Hunter pitched very well for the stars and stripes, posting a 1.47 ERA in 18.1 innings. He allowed only seven hits and he struck-out 26.

"We were mainly concerned [this summer] with monitoring his health and stuff and were satisfied with both," A's Scouting Director Eric Kubota told OaklandClubhouse.com on Friday.

When healthy, Hunter has a fastball that sits in the 91-96 MPH range. He also has a sharp breaking curveball and a change-up. Hunter has worked both as a starter and as a closer during his collegiate career. He has a starter's build at 6'4'', 215 pounds, and good deception with his delivery.

We spoke to Hunter a day after he was selected by the A's. To read that interview, please click here.

With the signing period for the 2008 MLB draft officially closed, the A's finish having signed 27 of their top-50 picks and all of their top 11 picks. Oakland went over slot to sign three players: Hunter, 10th round pick Rashun Dixon (who has a 920 OPS for the A's Rookie League team) and 28th round pick Dusty Coleman.

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