This morning the San Diego Padres promoted outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot, infielder Carlos Asuaje, and catcher Austin Hedges to the major leagues. The first three guys are rookies so we'll begin our coverage with Renfroe.
A first round pick in 2013 from Mississippi State, Renfroe mashed 21 homers between High-A and Double-A in 2014, then 20 more between Double-A and Triple-A in 2015. He was vulnerable to strikeouts and didn't draw many walks, however, leading to this assessment in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 210 DOB: January 28, 1992
2014: Grade B-; 2015: Grade B
Hunter Renfroe is a dangerous prospect. His power is perilous to pitchers. His throwing arm is a hazard to runners. And his entire profile is a risk for analysts. If someone from the future told me that Renfroe made some slight adjustments and turned into a consistent .280+ hitter with 30 homers a year, I would believe them. If they told me that he never got a firm grasp on the strike zone and futzed around for years in the .230s, bouncing from team to team, hitting some homers but never getting firmly established, I’d believe that too. He has huge power, 65-grade in my view, but a long swing and lots of swing/miss could cause problems for his batting average and OBP. Sometimes he looks like he’ll make the necessary modifications to avoid that, sometimes he doesn’t. We’ll hold with a Grade B.
Renfroe hit .306/.336/.557 in 2016 with 30 homers, 22 walks, and 115 strikeouts in 533 at-bats. His strikeout rate declined compared to past seasons but his walk rate declined as well. There was also a very sharp platoon split: he hit .365/.394/.654 in his home park at El Paso, a very good place for a power hitter, but was considerably less effective on the road at .247/.276/.461. Renfroe has excellent power to all fields but his highly-aggressive approach could be problematic against the best pitching.
Defensively, he features a strong and accurate throwing arm, ideally-suited for right field. He collected 16 assists in 2015 and 17 more in 2016. Although not a threat to steal he runs well for a bigger guy and is a very effective defender in right.
Overall, the basic profile hasn't changed. Renfroe's power and throwing arm are impact tools but he could have issues in the batting average and OBP departments. He's shown flashes of correcting this but there's a big difference between mashing in El Paso and San Diego. Grade-wise he's on the border between B and B+ for me.