Padres' Renfroe brings big bat to Fall League

Outfield prospect homers just days after shining in AFL Hitting Challenge

Padres' Renfroe brings big bat to Fall League

Outfielder Hunter Renfroe, the 13th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, has had a busy first full professional season. He played in 129 games between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio and represented the Padres in both the California-Carolina League All-Star Game and the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Now, he is continuing his eventful year in the Arizona Fall League.

When San Antonio's season ended Sept. 1, Renfroe was ready for a break before the start of Fall ball. He used the time off to get away from the game and relax at home.

"I didn't focus on baseball too much," Renfroe said. "I worked out to stay in shape and tried not to focus on baseball."

The time off seems to have revived Renfroe, the Padres' No. 4 prospect. He placed first among National Leaguers in the Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday and has gotten off to a hot start in the AFL. Thursday, he went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and a walk to help lead Surprise to a 7-4 victory at Glendale.

Through three games this fall, Renfroe, ranked No. 71 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, is hitting .385/.429/.769. He has at least one hit and one RBI in each game.

"I'm seeing the ball well," Renfroe said. "The three weeks off after the season really helped."

Renfroe struggled in August with San Antonio after playing well for the first five months of the season. He hit .218/.298/.300 with one home run in the final 29 games of the season, a significant decline after hitting .281/.354/.518 with 20 home runs in his first 100 games.

But Renfroe has been at the top of his game in the AFL. He said the quality of pitching has stood out the most in Arizona.

"Pitchers throw really hard," Renfroe said. "We haven't seen anybody throw under 92 [mph], I think. Everyone's throwing really hard and there's a lot of good competition."

Surprise got some solid pitching of its own Thursday, including from right-handers Justin Hancock and Tayron Guerrero, two of Renfroe's teammates in the Padres organization. Hancock started for the Saguaros and held the Desert Dogs to one run on two hits and three walks in two innings. Right-hander Guerrero, the Padres' No. 19 prospect, came out of the bullpen to strike out the side in the fifth. It was the first of five straight scoreless innings from the Saguaros' bullpen to close out the victory.

"They did good job," Renfroe said. "They stayed around the strike zone.

"Guerrero threw hard and his stuff looked good. Hancock kept ball down. He looked really good out there tonight."

The Desert Dogs' offense was led by a pair of outfielders from the Tigers' system. Right fielder Steven Moya, the club's No. 7 prospect, went 3-for-5 with a double, a run and a stolen base. Center fielder Daniel Fields finished the night 1-for-3 with a two-run home run and two walks. He also stole a base.

Though Glendale committed five errors, leading to four unearned runs in the first four innings, its offense kept it within a run of the Saguaros until Renfroe's home run in the seventh inning put the game away.

Renfroe said he's not focused on improving any one aspect of his game. Instead, he's looking to hit balls hard, just like he did Thursday night.

"I ain't worried about working on anything," Renfroe said. "Just play my game, hit balls in the gaps, keep my strikeouts down and hunt fastballs."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.