Hunter Renfroe Debut

I have been very lucky as a fan in a lot of ways. I’ve was at the game where Mike Zunino hit his first career homerun.  I was the photographer who took the photos of Chris Stratton’s first professional pitch. I’ve photographed first at bats and even a few first homeruns. On Thursday night I was once again privileged to be present for a milestone in a young player’s career.

DSC_0302I was in Eugene for Hunter Renfroe’s professional debut.  Renfroe was selected 13th overall by the San Diego Padres in this year’s draft out of Mississippi State University.

Here is what I have seen so far from Renfroe.

First let me show you how I approach scouting reports. When I do a scouting report on a player I look at a few different things than a real scout. I judge players in three categories; 1) How they perform on the field 2) How they treat the fans 3) How they act outside of the stadium.

I’ve never interacted with Renfroe outside of the stadium, nor have I ever talked with anyone who has so I won’t touch that area. I have seen him play three times in the past week and interacted with him, as a fan, twice now.

I want to say this right off the bat about Renfroe. He is a class act when it comes to interacting with fans. Twice I have asked him to sign more than a couple of items and both times he stopped, signed everything I had for him and even talked with me for a moment.  What really impressed me is when I asked him to sign some photos for me. I had 9 photos and I told him right up front he didn’t have to sign all of them if he didn’t feel like it. He signed all of them and even talked for a moment after signing them. Class Act all the way in my book.

On the field I can tell you that he is a special player as well.

DSC_0407Hitting

Renfroe’s main tool is his hitting ability. I can tell you that no one is going to blow a fastball by him. His hands are quick and he can turn on fastball with the best of him.  He is also able to lay off of the junk pitches.

He is at his best when he is aggressive at the plate. In the three games I’ve watched him play he has been aggressive in two of those games and really impressed me. The other game he went to the plate kind of passive and struck out three times.

He isn’t the best hitter I’ve seen in the Northwest League, Mike Zunino still has that place in my opinion (I may be biased being an M’s fan), but he is solid. I’ve seen Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Zunino, Mike Olt and a few others and Renfroe is a legitimate player in that class of talent.

Running

Renfroe is a good size guy but he still moves well on the base paths. He will steal some bases and has the ability to stretch some long singles into doubles.

His base running needs to continue to be developed. On Thursday he took a little too long to take off from first on a double in the right center gap, but that could have been nerves, or even getting used to a new ball park and a different level of play.  I don’t want to make too much of it because I think the play at the plate would have been close had he taken off a little sooner.

Arm Strength

Arm strength may be Renfroe’s weakest tool. It isn’t a bad arm but it isn’t as strong as a typical right fielder. I would expect Renfroe to move to Left Field in the next couple of years, but will be a solid outfielder who can hit for the Padres in the next couple of years.

Overall Impression

First round picks aren’t chosen that high because just because they are nice guys. They are chosen because they can play the game of baseball. Hunter Renfroe can play the game of baseball and can play it well. It will take him two maybe three years before he makes the major league club but when he does I would be willing to bet on him having a solid career.