Baseball: Ray Hunnicutt follows dream, signs with Orioles
By Erik Jacobsen firstname.lastname@example.org July 11, 2012 8:14PM
Updated: August 13, 2012 2:03PM
After much deliberation, Ray Hunnicutt decided to chase his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
Hunnicutt signed a letter of agreement with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, and the 2012 Burlington Central graduate and standout outfielder will leave next week for Sarasota, Fla., to join the organization’s Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate.
The decision came just over a month after Hunnicutt was selected by the Orioles with the 1,212th pick in the 40th and final round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Hunnicutt also seriously considered accepting offers to play baseball at several small colleges.
“It could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Hunnicutt said. “I have the support of my parents, and if something happens and it doesn’t work out I can always go to school. It’s kind of a dream so I decided to take this path.”
Pending a physical, Hunnicutt will sign his professional contract and begin playing for the Gulf Coast League Orioles next week. The team began its 60-game season June 18, so Hunnicutt will be a late arrival as he joins other young prospects at the lowest level of minor league baseball.
“I was told I’ll have two rookie seasons since I’m going down there late,” Hunnicutt said. “We’ve got games every day until the end of August, and then I’ll probably go back there next year and progress from there.”
Hunnicutt said he plans to return to the area this fall and begin taking classes at a yet-to-be-decided local college before rejoining the Orioles organization next spring.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder made a name for himself as a multi-sport standout at Burlington Central. In addition to his three varsity seasons playing baseball for the Rockets, he was also a four-year member of the school’s varsity basketball team and leaves as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,522 points.
Hunnicutt had offers to play both sports in college, but baseball emerged as his top priority. He ultimately chose signing with the Orioles over baseball offers from NCAA Division III programs Augustana College and Concordia University and NAIA Judson University, but he thanked the coaches from those schools for their support throughout the process.
This spring Hunnicutt finished with a .317 batting average, three home runs, 19 RBI and 41 runs scored. He was also a perfect 36-for-36 in stolen bases while earning All-Big Northern East honors for the third straight year.
“The opportunity you get in pro ball with development, the coaching and that sort of thing is second to none,” Burlington Central coach Kyle Nelson said. “I think when that’s presented to you and you’re an athlete like Ray is, I think you’ve got to take a real hard look at it, and he and his family decided that was the best decision.”