Is The Padres’ Hunter Renfroe Primed To Soon Make An Impact?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The addition of Manuel Margot from Boston knocked Hunter Renfroe from atop the Padres’ outfield prospect leader, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be the first to arrive in the Majors.  Playing at Triple-A he’s tried to make a strong case for a promotion, putting up the following line through Monday:

.297 (33-111), 5 HR, 18 RBI, 21 R, 3 SB

With names like Jon Jay and Melvin Upton Jr. currently starting in the outfield it certainly makes sense for the Padres to ultimately look for a younger option to make an impact.  Is Renfroe that player though?

Prior to the season Renfroe ranked as our #2 Padres prospect (click here for our Top 10) receiving a “B” grade.  At the time here is what we had to say:

“Power is at a premium and that’s what Renfroe brings to the table. Splitting time between Double and Triple-A last season he hit 20 HR, adding 27 doubles and 5 triples, and he’s really just beginning to tap into his full potential. The problem is that there is a lot of swing and miss to his game, as he displayed at both stops:

  • Double-A – 24.2%
  • Triple-A – 21.1%

The Triple-A mark was in just 95 PA (21 games), so don’t read too much into it. It’s possible that he brings a near 30% strikeout out in the Majors, at least initially, though his upside is greater than Rule 5 pick Jabari Blash. Think of a .250-.260ish type hitter with 20 HR potential.”

The numbers this season has come in the Pacific Coast League, so we have to keep the power in perspective, but he has added 12 doubles and 2 triples.  He’s also benefited from a .346 BABIP and continues to show significant swing and miss in his game (21.2% strikeout rate).  Throw in his meager walk rate (5.9%) and there is reason to be concerned about his plate discipline.

We were afraid that he could strike out over 30% of the time in the Majors entering the year and nothing has changed in that regard.  Here’s what MLB.com had to say about his swing, which helps to support this fear for the next level:

He strikes out quite a bit because the approach is aggressive and he has some length to his swing that makes him vulnerable to quality secondary pitches on the outer half as well as advanced sequencing.”

The power is intriguing, though the Petco Park factor also can’t be ignored.  Playing half his games there is clearly going to limit his upside, despite significant power, and 30 HR would appear to be out of the question.  Instead we are looking at 20-25 HR, maximum, without SB and the risk of a mediocre average.

Obviously power is at a premium and that’s going to put him on maps when he does arrive, but don’t look towards him to be a savior.

Current Grade – B
Upside Grade – B

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

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