Padres Draft Hunter Renfroe in First Round

With the 13th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft the Padres selected Hunter Renfroe out of Mississippi State – just as a few lucky PP writers predicted. High fives all around!

Renfroe offers as extremely diverse skillset that – pardon the cliché – projects him a true five-tool talent. Originally selected in the 31st round of the 2010 draft, Renfroe was seen as a raw athlete (playing catcher at the time) with tools you could dream on.

It wasn’t until 2013 during Renfroe’s junior season that he began to scratch the surface of his massive talent, posting an SEC-dominating line of .345/.435/.632 with a conference-leading 15 home runs and 58 RBI. His offensive output was so prodigious in a tough conference that he actually out homered the rest of his teammates…combined. This turn around came after Renfroe began to lay off pitches in the dirt more often while gaining needed consistency in his approach.

Renfroe climbed his way into the first round by actively showing four plus tools this season.

  • Arm: 60 – shows great strength but needs to improve accuracy
  • Defense: 60 – he’s playing center field at the moment, but his skillset is destined for right field
  • Power: 65 – he’s the all-time leader in Mississippi high school history for home runs
  • Speed: 60 – speed is really a separating factor for Renfroe as it will support both ends of his game

By just looking at the physical attributes Renfroe seems like an upper-echelon MLB player already, but a below average hit tool and improving approach will need a few years to fully mature in the minors. Assuming the hit tool comes around, as the Padres undoubtedly believe it will, you’re looking at a guy that can post a .275 average with 25-30 home runs and 15 steals while playing above average defense – that’s a star.

Oddly enough, Renfroe has an interesting swing characteristic that sees his back foot actually leave the ground at contact (below). While players such as Bryce Harper do this as well, this is typically an indicator of a guy that can struggle with timing off-speed pitches which is in Renfroe’s past.

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 10.30.40 PM

Again to stress, just because Renfroe has the physical gifts that would match up well with most big leaguers does not mean he could be there now. He still needs a lot of work to reach his ceiling.

What the experts are saying:

Among draft prospects, Renfroe was ranked 10th by Kiley McDaniel, 12th by Keith Law, 28th by Jonathan Mayo and 11th by Perfect Game.

Keith Law:

“At 6-foot-1, 216 pounds, he already looks physically developed enough to play in the upper levels of the minors. His swing is very rotational, with a good stride into the ball and excellent follow-through to generate all of that power. He lifts his back foot off the ground at contact, which isn’t ideal since it means he’s hitting entirely off his front foot, something a few good big league hitters have done, but that most don’t.”

Baseball America:

“He has polished his approach and gets to more of his well above-average raw power, though scouts still expect him to swing and miss plenty as a pro. He’s an asset defensively with a powerful arm and above-average speed. The 6-foot-1, 216-pounder fits the right-field profile well if he maintains his improved hitting approach, and he has hit his way into the first round.”

Baseball Prospectus:

“Raw and toolsy, Renfroe has developed considerably in his three years at Mississippi State. While there’s still some swing and miss to his game, he’s progressed tremendously at the plate. The more consistent of a hitter he can become, the more he can tap into his outstanding raw power. He’s a good runner who’s even better underway, and he has a cannon for an arm. He’s strong and physical and might very well fit the profile for a right fielder at the highest level. The team that believes Renfroe will hit enough will be the one to take him in the early stages of the Draft.”

Allan Simpson:

“The real Hunter Renfroe has stood up this spring, and there may not be a player in the 2013 draft class who has a better overall tool-set than the powerful Mississippi State right fielder. He has hit more homers than the rest of his teammates combined, and those numbers are more in keeping with the near-iconic status he achieved in two years of summer ball while playing for the Bethesda Big Train of the Cal Ripken League. Renfroe was selected the top prospect in that league two years running—first for his ability to hit tape-measure home runs as a power-hitting catcher while also lighting up radar guns to the tune of 98-99 mph as a strong-armed relief pitcher.”

Will he sign?

Renfroe was mainly scouted by Padres area scout Andrew Salvo – who incidentally was also responsible for Jedd Gyorko in 2010 – and isn’t expected to fight for more than the 13th pick’s slot of $2,678,000. At this point it seems safe to assume Renfroe will sign as there haven’t been any whispers of outlandish bonus demands. He recently finished the longest season of his baseball career, but don’t be surprised if he joins a full-season affiliate later this year.

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  • Nice call Jeff!

  • I always think of Frank Thomas (SEC- Auburn) when I see hitters who lift their back foot. Here’s to Hunter Renfro being Big-Hurt-ish!

    • Padres Prospects

      It’s really interesting how many of the all-time guys have the characteristic. Maybe it’s a huge boom or bust thing that either works amazingly or is a total tire fire. Should be fun either way!