Hunter Kloke is a 6’1 left-handed pitcher from Henderson, Kentucky, and a recent graduate from Indiana University. Kloke is also going into his second season with the West Palm Beach Knights, his first being in 2020. Kloke has had a tremendous journey so far, and recently, Kloke was able to share details on how his love for baseball was found, what he believes it takes to be successful as a pitcher, advice and mentorship that have helped him along the way, along with looking into the future.
There are instances where athletes are late bloomers and play baseball when they’re older, or even find that passion for it as time goes by. Kloke was the opposite, as he loved baseball since he was a young child. “When I was a little kid, my parents bought me a small foam bat and ball with a glove and it snowballed from there. I’ve been playing baseball since I could walk,” Kloke said in a message. Kloke’s father also introduced him to his favorite team, the Cincinnati Reds. “I grew up with my dad being a Reds fan and we attended several games since their park is not too far away from home,” Kloke said. And as Kloke grew older, he was able to identify the reasons why he values baseball. “What I enjoy most about the game is competing, building relationships, and learning lessons along the way.”
Players today and in the past have spoken on others who they idolized as they observed the game growing up. While watching over time, Kloke was able to discover his favorite player who also played the same position he does now: Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson.
“He [Randy] is a left-handed pitcher as well and has the mindset that he gives it all he’s got and he doesn’t care if you’re in the way. He’s fearless, I like that style.”
As Kloke continued to pitch, he was able to learn what it takes to be a consistent and successful at that position. “Be in control, have poise and handle the pressure, and keep the hitters off balance and uncomfortable.” Kloke has also received key advice throughout his career, but one that stood out to him was a message centered around himself. “The best advice I’ve been given is to believe in myself, trust my stuff, and to compete. To stay focused, locked in, be fully committed and relentless, and always give it everything I got, and never give up on my dream.” Kloke also shared how grateful he was to the coaches that helped him throughout the way, but pointed out three that have been the most significant to him. “Multiple coaches have helped me along my journey, but the three that stand out the most to me is Ben Reel, Dave Collins, and Jim Gott.” Collins and Reel are coaches at Indiana University, where Kloke attended, and Jim Gott recently was the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen coach.
As of today, Kloke is set to begin another season with the West Palm Beach Knights. And during his two years being with the team, Kloke has sensed improvement in his game. “The main thing I believe that has helped me the most is getting live reps against great competition. Also being a pitcher, I have a lot of ‘down’ time to sit and observe. Watching that many pitches, at bats, and innings, I’ve learned a ton just by being able to do that.” Kloke has also set out goals for the team, and wants to be the last one standing when the season ends. “I am here to contribute the best I can and as always, the goal is to win the last game, and be the last ones to end our season on a win.” As for himself, Kloke is looking to show he belongs and make it to the place he always wanted to be at since he was a child: The Major League.
“My personal goals since I am out of college eligibility and graduated are looking to prove to an organization that I can help them in the long run, and take my talents on to the next level and live out my dream.”