Renfroe aims to stand out in crowded outfield

Power-hitting prospect adjusting to big league pitching

Renfroe aims to stand out in crowded outfield

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres prospect Hunter Renfroe spent his winter celebrating his marriage with bride Courtney Beach on the beaches of St. Lucia and hunting near his home in Mississippi.

But now it's back to work in Peoria.

Renfroe has proved himself a power hitter in the Padres' farm system. The outfielder spent time with both the Double-A San Antonio Missions and Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas in 2015, hitting .272 with 20 home runs.

Renfroe is up for the challenge of proving himself worthy of a spot in the big leagues this spring, first by showing he can hit against Major League pitchers.

"We have a great pitching staff and we get to face them during live BPs," he said. "It kind of betters yourself to face better people."

This is not Renfroe's first appearance in the Cactus League, but the adjustment to seeing big league arms -- and 97-mph fastballs -- again is still a challenge.

"It's pretty tough to not see a ball for a long time coming at me that fast to getting right out there the second day out here," he said. "That's going to be tough to get used to seeing and get your timing back."

Renfroe figures to play in right field, a position currently held by veteran Matt Kemp. The Padres' outfield is also expected to include veterans Melvin Upton Jr., and Jon Jay. The battle to find a spot on the roster during the regular season will be difficult, but Renfroe is learning from the veterans.

"It's big. I get to sit here and learn from guys like Matt Kemp and [Upton]," he said. "I feel like learning from the guys I've had the opportunity to learn from should help tremendously."

Renfroe has a reputation as a pull hitter, but knows he needs to work on taking what the pitchers give him. It's not just about hitting home runs.

"A great pitch is not meant to be hit," he said. "I've got to keep telling myself that."

He's working on looking at each at-bat as part of a much longer season.

"If I hit one foul or if I strike out, who cares?" he said. "I've got 600 at-bats this year to get out there."

Manager Andy Green acknowledges there is a lot of work ahead for Renfroe as a fielder as well as a hitter.

"There's some footwork stuff in the outfield that [first-base coach] Tarrik [Brock] is really pressing with him and trying to get him better out there," he said. "And [hitting coach] Alan Zinter has a plan for him at the dish as well."

Renfroe will undoubtedly get plenty of chances to prove himself to the team this spring.

"Hunter's going to get at-bats, he's going to get an opportunity to show who he is," Green said. "He'll start a few games here and there early on."

Bill Slane is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.