When you think of power and average prospects in the minor leagues, does the name Renato Nunez of the Oakland Athletics system come to mind? I would bet not, but let me tell you what long-time minor league hitting coach Eric Martins has to say that just may put his name on the top of the list.
With my first question I wanted to know how Renato has progressed in 2015, hitting .264/.319/.453 with 15 homers, 25 walks, and 59 strikeouts in 333 at-bats in the Double-A Texas League. Keep in mind, in 2014, he hit 29 home runs, 96 RBI and carried a .279 batting average, a very productive season for a 20 year old in the California League, though he struck out 113 times in 509 at-bats. His strikeout rate is much lower this year.
"He's done a great job of making adjustments since he first got here. It is a tough league for players to make adjustments from A ball to here. He started off a little slow and he's made adjustments on how pitchers are trying to pitch him. He has developed on how to use the whole field. He came in early and hit some balls hard and this league is tough and balls don't go out easy in very many places. "
On Renato's future:
"This guy has the potential to be a .300 plus hitter with 30 home runs. He has that much talent. It's just a matter of him staying consistent and get his routine, put in the work and study pitchers. But the sky is the limit with him. I mean the ball jumps off the bat like no one I've seen before. He's got a special talent and its just a matter of time before he breaks out. A's fans can expect a guy that brings some excitement, drives in some runs and hit some balls a long way."
"He's still only 21 and doing pretty good in this league. His numbers might not dictate but for those who know this league knows he can hit here. He has a chance to not just be a power guy but a guy that can hit for average. "
When meeting Renato he is a very humble and very proud player. He understands English very well but is still learning to speak his thoughts. Most of all he knows he has to work daily to achieve the goals of his boyhood...to play Major League Baseball.
It is not often a player is selected to play in two Futures All Star Games. Renato was selected in 2014 (Stockton) and again in 2015 (Midland). This is a great recognition where he fully understand the value of that selection.
"I am really proud to be a two time all star. I just enjoyed that game and had fun with my teammates. My family was there so I was pretty excited. It makes me just want to keep working hard."
Recognizing the pride of being a player in the A's system, I wanted to know Renato's feelings about also playing for the Tigres de Aragua of the Venezuelan Winter League.
" Pretty nice. Its nice to play in your home town and having your family watching you. Its a pretty nice experience there. I hope I can play there again. But I am an Oakland A and that is what I like best."
On what A's fans can expect from him:
"I am a working hard player. I make the routine plays. I'm good at getting rbi's and helping the team win."
He was also quick to recognize all who have helped him succeed:
"Every single coach. Every single guy."
Only time will tell what the peak of Renato Nunez' major league career numbers will be. For now he is developing his game and working very hard at his craft.
I am obviously an just an observer but to be recognized by his current hitting coach as being one of the best hitters he's ever seen and the Oakland A's with two Futures Game nods, serves notice of what we can expect from this exciting young prospect.
Walter B. Barnard