#MLBPlayers411 | Hunter Renfroe
With four home runs in three games since his return from Triple-A El Paso, Padres slugger Hunter Renfroe is hitting like he never intends to return to the minor leagues.
It was a year ago today that Renfroe made his big-league debut with San Diego after an MVP season in the Pacific Coast League where he batted .306 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs in 133 games.
The thinking at the time was that Renfroe, the 13th overall draft pick in 2013 when he came out of Mississippi State, had nothing left to prove at that level. He went on to hit .371/.389/.800 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 11 games last September and won a job with the rebuilding Padres out of spring training.
But after struggling at the plate for several weeks in late July and early August, the club sent him down, where he promptly hit his way back, batting .509 with 18 RBIs over 14 games. He's been on a tear since his return on Sept. 19.
“I went through some highs and lows, like anybody else,” Renfroe told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “You never expect to get sent down on the day you get sent down, but I had not played well up to that point. You can never take anything for granted.”
On Tuesday night, Renfroe became the first Padres' rookie ever to hit three home runs in a game. He became the first Padre since Phil Nevin in October 2001 to club three blasts and in the process he also tied the Padres' rookie record with 24 home runs in a season.
He also is just the seventh rookie since 2007 to achieve the powerful feat, joining Joey Votto, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, Corey Seager, Jarrett Parker and Max Kepler.
So the 6-foot-1, 215-pound 25-year-old from Crystal Springs, Miss. remains an integral part in the rebuilding of the Padres – a team whose 40-man roster includes only one position player over 30 years old.
For the season, the right fielder has hit .234 with 24 home runs and 54 RBIs in 114 games.Against left-handed pitching, Renfroe has hit .340 – which ranks sixth in the National League – with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs.
"He's crushed lefties all year long," manager Andy Green said. "... I know he's got real power. You don't tie a rookie home run record spending a month in the Minor Leagues if you don't have ridiculous power."
Renfroe is a part of the recording-breaking nine rookies that have hit 20 or more home runs, three more than any other season in MLB history. Aaron Judge leads the group with 45 home runs, while Cody Bellinger, Josh Bell, Matt Davidson, Paul DeJong, Ian Happ, Trey Mancini, Matt Olson and Renfroe each have 20 or more. Renfroe is currently tied for fourth among all rookies in homers.
“He's got the ability to change the game in the field and at the plate,” manager Andy Green told the media in spring training. “It's all going to be predicated on his plate discipline, though.”
Renfroe played three seasons at Mississippi State University, leading the Bulldogs to the College World Series finals as a junior in 2013. He was a first-team All-American and hit .345 with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs prior to being drafted by the Padres with the No. 13 pick in June.
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