Padres See Opening in OF: Time to Promote Hunter Renfore

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May 22, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Jon Jay (24) celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring a run during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 22, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Jon Jay (24) celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring a run during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Padres lead off hitter Jon Jay will be placed on the Disabled List after missing a hit to a hit by pitch to his right forearm. It is rumored that Alex Dickerson will be recalled to which I say: wrong minor league outfielder. Bring up Hunter Renfroe!

Yes, this does have to do with my man-crush on the power hitting outfielder from Mississippi State who was drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2013 draft. That year his college team made it to the College World Series and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance as he led his team to the Championship Series where they lost to UCLA.

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This year he lost his top Padres prospect billing with the acquisition of Manuel Margot – and he seems to have taken that personally in the early going.

So far Renfroe has 18 home runs and 67 RBI with a .324 batting average and .948 OPS – the best of his career. 21 is his career high for home runs he should easily surpass.

That said losing Jay is a big blow for the Padres at the major league level. He was having a great year in the field and at the plate as the lead-off hitter in a bounce back season from 2015. Dickerson will likely battle Travis Jankowski for the center field-lead-off role as Jankowski has done well in Jay’s week-long absence from the lineup so far.

Dickerson meanwhile is from Poway and debuted for the Padres last season. He was up earlier on the year in limited at bats but is hitting .385 himself in AAA with 10 home runs and 16 doubles. I think he projects well as a potential left fielder or first baseman when Wil Myers needs a day off and being left-handed he might be able to supplant Brett Wallace in that role.

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I think Renfroe deserves a shot to push Melvin Upton Jr.to center field and spell Matt Kemp in right field when needed. Sure, with Renfroe and Kemp on the corners the Padres defense would suffer, but right now it’s about building up the offense for 2017 and getting Renfroe ready to assume a starting role for 2017 – not go through the early big league struggles he is likely to endure.

Maybe Matt Kemp will need a short stint on the DL and really force the Padres hand? As much power as he hit for this year, with his contract and defense the Padres surely are aggressively looking to see what they can get for the slugger – perhaps with an American League team that needs a designated hitter? In the meantime between Dickerson is back in San Diego where he grew up hoping to take advantage of the opportunity.

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