Who is this Hunter Renfroe everyone keeps mentioning and why is there a sudden interest in who he is?
Well, you may or may not know him from the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, but his presence in the major leagues has been nothing less than amazing. The No.3 prospect in the Padres system has made his entrance quite grand. If you don’t know who he is, you’ve probably been under some type of rock and that’s quite a shame.
The 24-year-old right hander Renfroe, along with four other prospects, Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Carlos Asuaje and Buddy Baumann were called up this month by the San Diego Padres. Renfroe was the Padres first round pick in 2013 and 13th overall. In Triple-A, he hit .306 while bringing in 105 RBI and 30 home runs and also won the PCL MVP award.
He made his debut September 21 against the Arizona Diamondbacks as a pinch-hitter for Travis Jankowski. Unfortunately for him, he was intentionally walked by reliever Edwin Escobar in the seventh inning with a runner on second and two outs.
He did get his first hit the next day with a one-out single to left field in the second inning against San Francisco Giants starter Jeff Samardzija. He was the only Padre to reach base in their first at bat against Samardizija. The Padres ultimately dropped the game 2-1 to the Giants.
In his next start against the Giants, he had no hits or runs, but that did not stop Renfroe’s momentum.
In his third start for the team he showcased his power to the fans. In the bottom of the fourth inning, he hit his first home run of the big leagues with a shot to left field against ace Madison Bumgarner. He took advantage of a 93-mph fast ball on a 1-2 count. The Padres pushed the game into extras, hoping the Giants struggling bullpen would fall short, but somehow it didn’t happen this time and they fell, 9-6 in 10 innings.
The four-time N.L. West Champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a visit to Petco Park and were definitely not ready for Renfroe. He went yard on the Dodgers and took care of them single-handedly. In the bottom of the first inning in Tuesday night’s game, he helped the Padres gain the lead with a three-run homer off of Kenta Maeda. He took the ball to left field on a 1-0 89-mph slider that went 380 feet. However, he did not stop there. He continued in grand fashion.
After fouling off sliders, working a full count with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning against reliever Louis Coleman, he was all over an 87-mph fastball that traveled 422-feet to center field to put the Padres up 7-1. Renfroe had two homers and seven RBI on the night, and all of the runs were thanks to him.
He joins other Padres’ rookies, Ryan Schimpf and Alex Dickerson, who have also hit their first grand slams this season. The trio of rookies’ grand slams this year is just one shy of the rest of MLB’s rookies combined.
He is the 10th Padre to ever have seven or more RBI in a game at the age of 24, and is the youngest by just two years. He also joined a group of 10 Padre hitters to claim that many RBI in one game in just his sixth major league game.
The only other Padre with three homers in his first six games is Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was watching him hit from behind the plate.
He made it clear he was nobody to mess with, and he continued that Wednesday night. He was back at it. After the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead on back-to-back home runs by Chase Utley and Adrian Gonzalez, Renfroe helped answer back with a line drive single to right field to tie the game 2-2.
The game continued to be a back-and-forth brawl of ties and leads, but Renfroe clearly wanted the lead and maybe his name for the history books.
In the bottom of the third inning and a 1-0 count from pitcher Jose De Leon, Renfroe hit a two-run shot estimated at 435 feet, not just to left field, but to the top of the Western Metal Supply Co. building. Not the third deck, but the roof top. None of the fans up there, or any fan, would have thought a souvenir would reach there, but none other than Renfroe got it up there. The ball exited the park at 109 mph.
Despite close encounters, the Padres eventually won the game 6-5.
His batting average is well over .300 with .381, an OBP of .409 and OPS of 1.409 and 12 RBI and four home runs that have provided a great deal.
Safe to say the future is bright for the San Diego Padres. These minor leaguers are ready to contribute and it is exciting seeing their growth. His last few games have been nothing less than memorable. Hopefully Andy Green gets an idea of who Renfroe is as a player in this brief appearance. The 2017 season will certainly be fun as the Padres have tons of young players on the verge of contributing. Hunter Renfroe might just be the best of them all.