The San Diego Padres are not used to what they have seen from their minor league prospects in 2016, as they are excelling given their Major League chances. The parade of successes this year is quite long, but no one is making more of an impression than Hunter Renfroe since being called up late in September.
The last Padres prospect I recall being hyped this much was a guy from the Adrian Gonzalez trade in 2010 named Anthony Rizzo. He fizzled in his Padres call-up, enough for the Padres to send him to Chicago for Andrew Cashner. One of the worst Padres trades in years. Renfroe is flipping that script.
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Of course, at this point we are still talking about 9 games, which is under 30 at bats, so let’s not crown him the next Kris Bryant just yet. Instead let’s enjoy what we have seen so far from him.
He swatted a 3 run home run and grand slam against the Dodgers last weekend, bringing in 7 RBI. The following day he homered again with 4 more RBI. Okay, so he’s got power. That home run landed ON THE ROOF of the Western Metal Supply Building. The roof. On a pitch he swatted from low in the zone. Watch out Gaslamp patrons, Renfroe is coming for you.
Except that he also only has 4 strike outs so far and has already been intentionally walked in the major leagues this year. In AAA he was the PCL MVP and hit 30 home runs with 105 RBI. He is doing exactly what we hoped he would do.
I was fortunate enough to watch him right after the Padres drafted him at the 2013 College World Series as he led Mississippi State to the title game against UCLA. It was clear then he was a man among boys and he tore through the Padres minor league system. He was the Arizona Fall League MVP as he blasted up the league that is known for cultivating top prospects and has barely looked back.
Since he did go to college first and spent a few years in the minor leagues, he is already 24 years old. By no means does this slow him down at all, but for comparison; Wil Myers just finished up his 4th Major League season (first full without injuries) and is just 25. They are separated by about 13 months, but to think about Myers and Renfroe hitting 3-4 for the Padres in 2017 is an exciting prospect. Throw in the play of Ryan Schimpf, Alex Dickerson, and Manuel Margot in his call-up so far and Austin Hedges hoping to move his AAA hitting to the Majors in 2017, all of a sudden the offense for the Padres could be dangerous and young – a combination that hasn’t been seen for a long time.