All Eyes on Hunter Renfroe
With the thirteenth pick in the 2013 draft, the San Diego Padres selected outfielder Hunter Renfroe from Mississippi State. The team had used this pick in hopes that the big-bodied outfielder would continue the success he had throughout the 2013 season at Mississippi State, where Renfroe hit 16 home runs in 66 games, posting a .345 batting average and driving in 65 runs. On top of a solid offensive attack, Renfroe holds his own in the outfield, having an absolute cannon for a right arm.
Little did they know that the former Bulldog would eventually become their right fielder of the future, and one of the key pieces that they will build their franchise around.
Success at the professional level didn’t come easy in the beginning for Renfroe. In 2014 and 2015, Renfroe posted a .267 and .272 batting average while striking out 130+ times in both seasons. However, his power never went away, as Renfroe hit 20+ home runs in both of those seasons as well.
The 2016 season was a huge transition for Renfroe. He had to prove to scouts and the Padres’ organization that he wasn’t just a power hitter, but that he could spray the ball and actually hit for contact as well.
With a .306/.336/.557 batting line to go along with 30 home runs and 105 RBI, Renfroe ran away with the PCL MVP award, while leading the Chihuahuas to a PCL championship as well. A big concern with Renfroe was how much he struck out, but last season he cut that down as well (115).
Shortly into the month of September, the Padres called up one of their highly touted prospects in Renfroe, giving him an opportunity to show them what he could do. In 11 games with the ball club, Renfroe blasted four home runs, drove in 14 runs, posted a .371 batting average, and even earned N.L. Player of the Week honors. The future seemed to be incredibly bright for the young, powerful Padre hitter, as the team saw a preview of what they hoped would be their everyday right fielder for years to come.
Just to prove that last season was no fluke, Renfroe has had himself quite a successful spring training. In 22 Cactus League games, he’s put up a .304/.324/.507 batting line with two home runs and 12 RBI. In just 69 at bats, Renfroe tallied 21 hits and 11 strikeouts, putting him at roughly 150 hits and putting him at roughly 80 strikeouts every 500 at bats, a quality number for Renfroe to be at. With the 2017 spring season coming to an end, Renfroe has essentially secured himself a spot as the starting right fielder come opening day.
Just how successful will Renfroe be this upcoming season? That is something completely up in the air. The Padres absolutely love what the young outfielder can do, but with essentially a four man rotation in the outfield, the Padres will have a tight leash on the 25-year-old right fielder. According to MLB.com, Renfroe is projected to blast 20 long balls this year, something a former Padre rookie (Ryan Schimpf) did last season, which is quite an impressive feat.
Seeing what the young, powerful, and explosive outfielder can do will be one of the most exciting things for the Padres this upcoming season. Is the Rookie of the Year award out of the question? Of course not, and projecting Renfroe to win it would not be something foolish to do. The entire fan base and ball club are hoping Renfroe will become what he is expected to be: a powerhouse, everyday right fielder that will be a key piece of their team for years to come. All eyes on this young man.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.