The San Diego Padres were signaling their trust in Hunter Renfroe when they traded Franmil Reyes. Now it’s time for Renfroe to prove he deserves it.
Leading up to the 2019 MLB Trade Deadline, there were a lot of rumors involving the San Diego Padres. One of the more popular names mentioned was outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who had a career-high 29 home runs at the time of the Deadline and had proven himself to be a big part of the team’s lineup.
Whether the rumors were true or not, it’s not unfair to question the young outfielder’s future with a team like the Padres, who are methodically molding their plans for 2020 and beyond.
The Padres’ value players are multi-dimensional, and Renfroe has mostly underwhelmed in that category. While he’s now sixth in the National League with 31 home runs, his other offensive numbers don’t impress much.
Coming into Game 3 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Renfroe was sporting a 118/33 K/BB ratio with a meager .296 on-base percentage. His batting average hadn’t been above .240 much this season, sitting at .234 as of Sunday.
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These numbers have been mostly consistent throughout Renfroe’s young career, which begs the question of whether he’s capable of developing the necessary plate discipline and adjusting his approach.
Too often he has trouble with pitches in the outside and lower parts of the zone—places where pitchers strategically attack against hitters like Renfroe.
2019 has still seen some very exciting and promising moments from the three-year Friar, even with the lack of consistency. He’s had some clutch home runs, including a walk-off grand slam against Kenley Jansen and the Dodgers on Cinco De Mayo at Petco.
Defensively, he has become a reliable corner outfielder while leading the NL with 12 outfield assists.
These are definitely things that make Renfroe an interesting player going forward for the Padres, but it will ultimately come down to whether or not he’s able to take the next steps in his progression quickly enough to grow in harmony with a team that’s looking to win as soon as next season.
With Fernando Tatis Jr. unfortunately sidelined with a lower back injury for the remainder of 2019, and the team seemingly out of realistic playoff contention, the Padres are looking toward next year instead of this year. This last month and a half of the season is a great time for Renfroe to refine his game with little pressure from a team standpoint.
It’ll be interesting to see which current players or minor leaguers make strides in this final stretch of the season, but none have more to prove than Hunter Renfroe, who has all the tools necessary to be the guy most of us think he can be.
For complete coverage of the San Diego Padres 2019 season, continue following Friars on Base all season long.