Michael Hunter Bledsoe
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 210 lb.
- School Vanderbilt University, Walters State Community College, Duke University
- High School Sullivan South High School
Hunter Bledsoe was a college star who made it to AA as a pro.
He was his high school's valedictorian. He began his college schooling at Duke, then transferred to Walter State, then to Vanderbilt. He hit .389 for Vanderbilt in 1997. In 1998, though, the honors student, was deemed ineligible for 1998 and Vanderbilt had 30 of its 31 wins removed from 1997 (the games Bledsoe played in) because Bledsoe did not have 24 transferable credit hours, violating a NCAA rule on players who transferred from a four-year school to a junior college then back to a four-year school.
Back on the field in 1999, he excelled, hitting .459, the best mark in the Southeastern Conference since Dave Magadan in 1983 and setting a school record. He also set the Vanderbilt record with 95 hits and led the SEC with a .552 OBP. He was second in NCAA Division I in average, .019 behind Ken Harvey, and added 31 steals. He was named All-SEC at third base and the SEC Player of the Year. Collegiate Baseball named him and Tagg Bozied as the All-American third basemen, though Baseball America picked Xavier Nady and the American Baseball Coaches Association went with Ryan Gripp.
He was signed by Los Angeles Dodgers scout Marty Lamb. He hit .265/.309/.373 for the 1999 San Bernardino Stampede. Playing mostly DH for the 2000 Vero Beach Dodgers, he produced at a .320/.373/.432 clip with 75 RBI and 17 steals in 21 tries in a pitcher-friendly league. He finished 4th in the Florida State League in average, between Kevin Mench and Brian Cole. He played in 2001 for Vero Beach (.323/.390/.409 in 65 G) and GCL Dodgers (5 for 13, 2B, BB), presumably missing time to injuries. Moving up to a league that did not have DHs for NL-NL affiliate games, he covered first base for the 2002 Jacksonville Suns and fielded .999 there; he also hit .279/.381/.376. His 72 assists tied David Kelton for the Southern League lead at 1B but Bledsoe did not qualify for the lead in fielding percentage (Kelton officially led at .990).
Bledsoe split 2003 between the New York Yankees' Tampa Yankees (.311/.390/.392 in 61 G), the independent Coastal Bend Aviators (7 for 18, 2 2B, 5 BB) and the Kansas City Royals' Wichita Wranglers (.253/.295/.336 in 31 G).
Overall, Hunter had hit .301/.370/.398 in 438 games, scoring 197 runs and driving in 184. He stole 31 bases in 43 tries.