Minor League Prospect Note: Renato Nunez, 3B, Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics prospect Renato Nunez is having a decent North American debut, hitting .328/.387/.526 with 14 doubles, three homers, four steals in four attempts, nine walks, and 27 strikeouts in 137 at-bats for the Arizona Rookie League Athletics. Nunez was signed by Oakland out of Venezuela in 2010, earning a $2,200,000 bonus. This was $200,000 more than Oakland gave '10 first-round pick Michael Choice.
Nunez's pro career got off to a slow start when he hit just .268/.301/.407 in the Dominican Summer League last year. His performance this season is more like what Oakland expected, although he still has some issues to address.
Listed at 6-1, 185, Nunez is a right-handed hitter and thrower, born April 4, 1994. Scouts who like him point to a mechanically sound swing, plenty of bat speed, and raw power to all fields. On the other hand, he's very impatient, and while nobody expects him to turn into a walk machine, better pitch recognition will be needed at higher levels. A good sign is that he's lowered his strikeout rate compared to the DSL, going from 20.2% of his plate appearances resulting in strikeouts last year, to 17.4% this year.
On defense, he has a good arm and sufficient athleticism for third base, but needs a lot of refinement with his reliability. Overall, he's made genuine-but-not-amazing progress. 2012 would have been his draft year if he'd grown up in North America, so his age needs to be kept in perspective.