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Texas A&M Baseball

Dugout Chat: Hunter Coleman finding his groove at the plate for Aggies

May 10, 2018

(Click "play" above to listen to the Dugout Chat in full.)

Zach DeLoach and Justin Seely were having a conversation in the Olsen Field home dugout last Sunday when Hunter Coleman crushed a 2-1 offering from Florida starter Jack Leftwich for a crucial go-ahead home run.

The two barely paused to admire the flight of the ball as it sailed toward the Rec Center in deep left, immediately going back to discussing any tells in Leftwich’s delivery that the Aggies might be able to exploit.

“We saw the ball and we were like, ‘Oh, that’s gone,’ and we just kept up the conversation we were having,” DeLoach recalls. “He’s got a lot of juice in his bat. He’s one of our power guys and he’s a dangerous threat at the plate. Being able to turn on a ball like he did against Florida, that’s just the kind of power he has.”

They and the rest of the A&M dugout have all seen Coleman’s prodigious power on numerous occasions, so seeing it on display in game action against the No. 1 team in the country was not all that out of the ordinary.

“As soon as he hit it, it wasn’t shocking or surprising to me or Zach,” says Seely, A&M's recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. “He has that kind of strength and bat speed, it’s just a matter of him consistently squaring the ball up.”

Brian Okosun
Coleman's third-inning home run against No. 1 Florida last Sunday turned out to be the game-winning run. 

What happened in the at-bat leading up to the home run swing was just as impressive as the home run. He laid off two changeups, one of which caught the bottom of the zone, then he let a breaking ball out of the zone go by before hammering a fastball that caught too much of the plate.

“He finally came with a fastball, which is what I was hunting the whole time, and I got the barrel to it,” Coleman says in this week’s Dugout Chat. “I’m definitely looking for a fastball to hit. It doesn’t mean I won’t swing at one of those offspeed pitches early in the count, but my main focus is being ready to hit the fastball.”

It’s exactly those kinds of at-bats that have established Coleman’s reputation as a mature hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. He has a patient eye, rarely chases pitches out of the zone early in the count and has been a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Aggies since he got to campus as a true freshman last year.

Ask anyone in the Aggie clubhouse, and they will tell you Coleman’s .248 batting average is about as deceptive as can be. He has come through with big hits for the Aggies all season long and his average has been climbing steadily since the start of SEC play.

“He’s gotten a lot of production out of what he has done this year,” Seely says. “If you look at his numbers, I think we would all say there’s a lot more in there. We obviously believe in him because of where we put him in the lineup, and he’s handled that very well.

“He probably hasn’t performed statistically how he would like to, but we really try not to focus on the numbers. He’s been productive in run-scoring opportunities, which is what we need him to do.”

Says A&M starter John Doxakis: “I think he’s a big threat. He has the physical appearance and we all know what he can do — his average lies about his capabilities. When you see him step up to the plate you always feel good knowing there are runners in scoring position.”

Logan Foster, who became close with Coleman when they were teammates this past summer in the Northwoods League, remembers Coleman hitting one of the farthest home runs he’s ever seen when they were playing together for the Wisconsin Woodchucks.

That type of power coupled with his consistent approach makes Coleman a force to be reckoned with in the batter’s box.

“He’s a mature hitter and he has a lot of pop. He can swing the stick and his numbers may not show it, but he’s definitely a great hitter."
- A&M outfielder Logan Foster

“He’s a mature hitter and he has a lot of pop. He can swing the stick and his numbers may not show it, but he’s definitely a great hitter,” Foster says. “He doesn’t get rattled and he doesn’t chase pitches out of the zone. He’s very confident in what he does, he sticks to his approach and that’s what makes him a mature hitter. He’s not chasing balls that are up and down — he’s staying within himself.”

Doxakis, one of Coleman’s roommates, has started referring to Coleman as ‘Big Game Hunt’ for his ability to shine in run-scoring opportunities. Coleman notched a key two-run single against Georgia that avoided a road sweep and then he had an incredible at-bat against Texas where he fouled off five two-strike pitches before plating two runs that were ultimately the difference in the game.

Add in the big fly against Florida that put the Aggies ahead and allowed Stephen Kolek to settle into the game, and Coleman has delivered in a host of big moments for A&M this season.

“Overall it’s not where I want to be as far as my numbers, but I think I’m putting together good at-bats here recently. I think I’ve been improving and taking steps in the right direction all season,” Coleman says. “I think that’s the best way to win — score as many runs as possible. At the end of the day, my average may not be where I personally want it, but I honestly couldn’t care less as long as I’m getting the hits I need to hit and scoring runs and getting on base.”

Coleman entered 2018 with big expectations. He hit .283 and finished the year as the Aggies’ cleanup hitter as a freshman, he put together a solid summer in Wisconsin and he transformed his body into a much leaner, more athletic specimen.

However, he injured his hamstring less than two weeks before the season opener. He was diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, an injury that lingered for at least the first month of the season. He never complained to the coaches, though, instead choosing to go about his business in his usual professional manner and he says it feels fine now.

As he dealt with his nagging hamstring and his batting average hovered around the Mendoza Line, Coleman had to handle struggle in a way that he never had before in his life. Seely and hitting coach Will Bolt kept slotting him into the middle of the order and telling him he had a long time to get his average back up to where he wanted.

Jeff Toates, TexAgs
Coleman has flashed the leather at both catcher and first base for the Aggies in 2018.

Coleman has made big contributions for the Aggies in the field as well. A catcher by trade, Coleman’s throwing from behind the plate is much improved from last year, and he has looked like a natural at first base when he has played there.

His instincts and high baseball IQ are always on display, no matter where he is playing on the field or what spot in the order he is hitting. His father David, A&M’s hitting coach during the Mark Johnson era, was the head coach at Midland College for 11 years before stepping down in 2017, and Coleman soaked in a lot of knowledge from being around the game so much from a young age.

“I’d go to as many of my dad’s games as I could if I wasn’t playing. Even in high school if I didn’t have practice or a game, I’d be at Midland College’s games,” says Coleman, who scored a 33 on his ACT, the highest mark Seely has seen in his time recruiting high school athletes. “Anytime there was a game I’d be there watching and paying attention, not just being there to be there.

“We would always talk certain scenarios in the game. He would always tell me good job and stuff, but there’s always a moment in every game that you can learn something from, so he would always pick out that one moment and even if it wasn’t something that I did, we would talk about it and see if I noticed it.”

Coleman’s blend of hitting ability, power and all-around baseball intelligence made him a sought-after recruit coming out of Midland Lee High School, and he was the first player A&M offered in his class. He initially committed to Texas Tech, however, despite what Seely thought was a successful courtship of the talented catcher.

“I was really upset about that one — that one hurt,” Seely says. “I felt like this is where he wanted to come, and he committed to Tech so it caught me off guard a little bit.”

Coleman opted for the Red Raiders because it was close to home and he was close with one of Tech’s assistant coaches, but in his heart, he always wanted to be an Aggie.

He was committed to Tech for the majority of his junior season, but he ultimately came to his senses, re-opened his recruitment and signed with Texas A&M.

“I let that decision take its toll on me for a while, but then finally decided that this is what I had to do,” says Coleman, whose younger brother Ty is a member of this year’s A&M recruiting class. “I didn’t want to regret not being here, so I finally had the conversation with my parents and was able to fix my decision.

“This was the school I always wanted to go to, the one I always followed growing up. The memories I have from here whenever my dad was here — running the bases after every game and things like that — this is exactly where I wanted to be.”

Coleman says he has no regrets about his decision, and the Aggies will rely on him to continue getting big hits and raising his average as they embark on a critical stretch in the season. They travel to No. 7 Arkansas needing a strong finish to maximize their chances of hosting a regional in College Station.

“I think I’m putting together good at-bats here recently,” Coleman says. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play for an offense where I’ve been struggling and not playing to my full potential, but our offense has been able to still put runs on the board and carry that load. If I keep taking steps in the right direction, I’ll get to where I want to be.”

Discussion from...

Dugout Chat: Hunter Coleman finding his groove at the plate for Aggies

8,627 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 yr ago by Aggie12B
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As a former teacher of his, I can truly say that Hunter has not changed. Very serious, kind, intelligent, and an old school ball player. So glad he's an Aggie. Gig Em Mr Coleman!
Gig Em Ags, God Bless Old Army and Marching in Behind the Band! Whooooopppp
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People tend to think of pulled hamstrings as minor injuries, but it can be a real disability for over a mo.
He hit clean up as a fish and is back now and producing against top notch SEC pitching.
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