San Diego Padres Expecting Big Things From Hunter Renfroe

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Hunter Renfroe
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Hunter Renfroe /

The San Diego Padres are, as of right now, heading into the 2018 regular-season with a specific plan in mind for their young stud Hunter Renfroe. Whether they stick to that plan is yet to be seen. It all depends on Eric Hosmer.

Hunter Renfroe was a pleasant surprise for the San Diego Padres last season. After playing in just 11 games after making his debut in the 2016 season, he made the Opening Day roster in 2017.

The Friars had watched Renfroe breeze through their minor league system and believed he was ready for the rigors of the majors. As you can see in the table below, he had his way with minor league pitching at nearly level of the Padres farm system.

Maybe the San Diego Padres weren’t expecting Hunter Renfroe to emerge so quickly as a threat at the major league level, but they knew they had something special soon after they drafted him in 2011 (1st round, 13th overall).

The moment the San Diego Padres knew Renfroe was a star

Renfroe’s 2016 season with the El Paso Chihuahuas of the Pacific Coast League was what solidified his status as a sure-fire can’t miss prospect. He’d been raking at every other level he’s played at up until that season, but maybe not to the level the Padres front office had envisioned.

Then 2016 came, and Renfroe absolutely creamed PCL pitching. In 133 games played, he connected on 30 HR, knocked in 105 runs, while mixing in 34 doubles and five triples. His slash line was a ridiculous .306/.336/.557.

Does playing the PCL inflate hitters numbers? Constantly. But Hunter Renfroe was hearing none of that kind of talk. His 2017 rookie season for the San Diego Padres even further confirmed the hype around their young slugger.

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Renfroe’s 2017 for the San Diego Padres has fans eager for 2018

Renfroe began the season with the San Diego Padres last season. Although his batting average and on-base percentages leave room for improvement, he showed everyone who may have doubted him exactly why he was a first-round draft pick.

After a slow-ish start to the year, Renfroe began to look more and more comfortable at the plate and in the field. His power numbers were consistent throughout the season, having ten by the end of May.

Playing mostly in rightfield, Renfroe’s fielding percentage was a not-so-impressive .959, but I’m sure he devoted plenty of time this offseason to stepping up his outfield play. If he wants to remain the Padres starting right-fielder, especially with all of the roster spot competition that’s expected this spring, he’ll need to improve his glovework.

As you can see above, Renfroe finished out the season with more-than-respectable numbers. Slashing .231/.284/.467, while not ideal, is more than acceptable for a rookie who spent most of the season the middle of the batting order with limited protection around him.

Next: Grading Padres Offseason Additions

His 26 HR and 72 RBI, as well as his 105 OPS+, give us a good idea of just how productive Hunter Renfroe could be for the San Diego Padres. Not just this year, either. If Renfroe’s career stays on a similar trajectory to where it is now, he has the potential to be a cornerstone of this franchise for the foreseeable future.