Earning his spot

Prior to the start of the American Legion season, Minot Vistas coach Todd Larson had a decision to make regarding Hunter Duttenhefer. He could either add him to the Vistas lineup or have Duttenhefer spend another year with the Minot Metros.

Larson opted to move him up to the Class AA ranks and the 16-year-old Duttenhefer has shown thus far how wise of a decision that turned out to be. The rising Minot High senior is the youngest player on the team and is nearly a full year younger than most of his fellow Class of 2015 teammates, but he plays older than his age.

Duttenhefer spent the early part of the season at second base, but has since moved to right field where he’s found his comfort zone. He’s strung together 21 straight games without an error, making 21 putouts during that stretch.

“He has settled into that right field spot for us,” Larson said. “His athleticism makes him a good outfielder. He gets good reads, pretty good jumps on baseballs hit his way. The kid always hustles, whether it’s running down the bases or going after fly balls, he’s a hustler. He works extremely hard.”

Duttenhefer had a season-high five putouts against Moorhead (Minn.) on June 17. He also has eight outfield assists.

“I’ve been an outfielder and second base was weird for me,” Duttenhefer said. “I played outfield my entire life so it wasn’t a big jump.”

Offensively, Duttenhefer provides a solid bat at the bottom of the order. He’s hitting .307 with a .372 on-base percentage. He’s had six multi-hit games and 16 with at least one base hit. He has nine RBIs and 12 runs on the year. Duttenhefer recorded a season-high three hits against Mandan on June 19.

And he’s always looking to improve.

“Hunter asks questions, which is very good,” he said. “He’s not afraid to ask the coaching staff what he needs to do to make things better. He’s just a good kid to have on the team.”

Duttenhefer has appeared on the mound in five games, sporting a 1-3 record and a save. He’s gone at least four innings in his four starts. He picked up his first win in a complete-game three-hitter against Mandan, allowing one run while striking out five.

In 21.1 innings pitched, Duttenhefer has a 4.59 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP.

“He’s got kind of a goofy delivery, goofy motion and teams get a little screwed up by that at times,” Larson said. “He pounds the strike zone pretty well for us. He’s been one of our more consistent guys. He typically puts the ball in play as a pitcher, which is good for our defense.”

Mike Kraft covers the Minot Vistas and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.