Hunter Renfroe swatted a career-best 34 homers in 2016, with 30 of those long balls coming at Triple-A El Paso before a late-September call to San Diego. Considering the lack of power in the Padres' lineup throughout the season, it's somewhat surprising that he wasn't added to the mix sooner, but a second-half fade in the minors (.734 OPS) after a strong first half (.973) may have been the culprit. In addition to a drop-off in offensive production, Renfroe struck out at a much higher clip in the second half (20.4 strikeout percentage overall), and he failed to walk frequently throughout the season (3.9 walk percentage at Triple-A, 2.8 in 11 games with San Diego), raising questions about his eye and plate coverage. With plus power, Renfroe should have a place in the Padres' outfield to open 2017, but he possesses significant downside in the batting average department despite earning Pacific Coast League MVP honors at El Paso last season. In the late rounds of fantasy drafts, of course, reward outweighs risk when it comes to mashers of this potential caliber.
Renfroe went deep for the first time this spring, going 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in Wednesday's win over the Reds. Renfroe is expected to start the year as the Padres' everyday right fielder. The talented prospect brings big power to the table (30 homers and 105 RBI with Triple-A El Paso), but that comes with a lack of patience (3.9 BB% in 133 games). That aggressive approach at the plate is concerning in the event that the slugger isn't able to make consistent contact right off the bat, causing him to be a drag on batting average. Renfroe received a taste of the majors last season, making contact with 84.5 percent of pitches he saw in an 11-game stint. That was obviously a small sample size, and it would be shortsighted to extrapolate that contact rate over a full major league season. That being said, his power potential makes him a worthwhile late-round option in standard mixed leagues.
Renfroe is the favorite to start the season as the Padres' everyday right fielder, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. This was always the club's plan, especially after shipping off Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. at the trade deadline last season. Renfroe slashed .306/.336/.557 with Triple-A El PAso on his way to winning the Pacific Coast League's MVP award. The power is extremely tantalizing from a fantasy perspective, but the .336 on-base percentage and 3.9 walk rate indicate that he could be a drag on batting average if he is forced to adjust to major league pitching. As long as he wins the starting job this spring -- which appears to be his to lose -- then he will be considered a high-upside outfield prospect in most formats.
Renfroe is not in the lineup for Friday's game against the Diamondbacks. Five player have rotated among the three outfield spots over the last week, and Renfroe will be one of the two odd men out Friday night. Manuel Margot will get the start in right field for the Padres.
Renfroe had himself another big day Wednesday against the Dodgers, going 2-for-4 with a homer, four RBI and two runs. In a season of explosive offensive performances, Renfroe's only the latest in a long line of players who've impressed immediately in the majors. Over just seven games so far, he's ripped four homers and driven home a dozen runs while hitting .421. With a .306 average and 30 long balls on the 24-year-old's Triple-A resume this year, he makes for a big-time keeper and a strong target in next year's drafts. However, Renfroe's relative lack of plate discipline (just 22 walks with 115 strikeouts in 133 games for Triple-A El Paso this year) may result in a hiccup next year as the league adjusts to him.
Renfroe homered twice and drove in seven runs in a 2-for-4 game Tuesday against the Dodgers. Renfroe had a game that would go down as a career best for many in just the sixth game of his major league career. There was plenty of reason to expect big things from the 24-year-old, as he posted a sharp .893 OPS with 30 homers for Triple-A El Paso. He's showing he has big time power and that no walls around the majors -- not even Petco Park's -- can keep him in. He has opened his young career with a ludicrous .353/.389/.941 batting line.