Padres Call Up Hunter Renfroe

What To Expect

Hunter Renfroe (Photo by Dennis Hubbard)
Hunter Renfroe (Photo by Dennis Hubbard)

As with Manuel Margot, the Padres are calling up preseason No. 3 prospect Hunter Renfroe to determine what they have in the outfield for 2017.

Renfroe, the No. 13 pick in the 2013 draft from Mississippi State, had by far his most consistent season in 2016, hitting .304/.334/.555 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs. He figures to be the Padres’ right fielder for the long-term future, if he can meet expectations.

SCOUTING REPORT

The country-strong Renfroe, who is from Mississippi, had a reputation as a player with a long learning curve. Each new level came with challenges and, at times, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder was slow to adapt. But he has shown aptitude in repeating a league, with noticeable improvement in hitting approach and results.

That was no different in 2016, when evaluators praised his restructured approach and swing. Renfroe last season embraced help from Double-A hitting coach Morgan Burkhart and roving instructor Luis Ortiz. They had Renfroe shorten his leg kick and adjust his hands, which helped him become shorter and quicker to the ball. More importantly, Padres officials believe, he trusts the new swing and the results bear that out. His 20.4 percent strikeout rate this season was the lowest of his professional career, and he also drove the ball more consistently with career-highs in hits, doubles and home runs.

In the field, Renfroe’s throwing arm is his most consistent tool. It’s a plus arm—a prototypical right fielder’s arm—and his 17 assists tied for second in the PCL, behind only his teammate Margot. Renfroe also worked on his conditioning, which was a priority for him entering last winter, to improve his range in right. Scouts who saw him this year said he defense became so well-rounded that they believe Renfroe can deliver significant value to a major league team with his defense alone, even if he eventually struggles to make contact against major league pitching.

WHAT TO EXPECT

As is the case with Margot, the Padres are eager to see what they have in Renfroe with an eye toward the 2017 season. The outfield is wide open, and the Padres could open 2017 with Margot and Renfroe as two-thirds of the starting unit.

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