NWL notes: Ems' Renfroe has the tools

Padres' first-rounder flashing same skills he showed at MSU

Hunter Renfroe is batting .313 with two homers and three RBIs in eight games. (Eugene Emeralds)

By Patrick Brown / Special to MiLB.com | July 19, 2013 6:00 AM ET

All baseball players, at any level, hope to possess the coveted five traits: speed, arm strength, hitting for average, hitting for power and good fielding. It's rare to find a prospect who has the potential to fill all five of those buckets, let alone one who already possesses them.

Eugene outfielder Hunter Renfroe just might be that find.

Renfroe, who was drafted No. 13 overall by the Padres this year, has wasted little time out of the gate since signing his professional contract July 9. The Emeralds outfielder, who earlier this year helped Mississippi State reach the College World Series, has hit .313 with two home runs and three RBIs in eight games.

His addition has provided an offensive spark to a club that already has some pop in its lineup.

"Between Renfroe and Edwin Moreno, when you put two bats in the lineup like that, it really puts a spark into your offense," said Emeralds manager Jim Gabella. "We've really been playing some good baseball lately."

Renfroe is no stranger to high expectations. He admittedly faced a lot of pressure throughout his collegiate career but handled it in stride and finished the 2013 season hitting .345 with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs in 66 games for MSU.

Now it's simply a matter of keeping his swagger -- he isn't trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to consistency.

"I get to the ballpark a few hours before the game, take [batting practice] and fielding, it's just like I did in college ball," Renfroe said. "I'm here trying to do the best that I can and perform at the highest level possible."

He's opened some eyes with his quick adaption to professional baseball and is already showing that he can be the five-tool player that every club is looking for.

"Usually when you talk about a guy being a baseball player, he knows how to play the game and plays hard, but still kind of lacks all the tools," Gabella said. "We've got a guy who knows how to play the game, plays it hard and has all five tools to play the game, so we're really lucky."

The biggest prep, of course, was college, which vastly improved Renfroe's Draft stock. He had been drafted by the Red Sox in the 31st round of the 2010 Draft but opted instead to go to college. It was there he studied Kinesiology and honed his skills to become one of the top prospects in the Draft.

"I would recommend to anybody to go to college first," Renfroe said. "It helps you in so many ways. There is so much I learned in college that is helping me tremendously here."

The 21-year-old, who was a Braves fan growing up, is quickly realizing his dream in the Padres organization.

"Anytime anyone asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to be the next Chipper Jones and play professional baseball at the highest level," Renfroe said. "I'm really looking forward to living up to it, and keeping my journey going."

At the rate he's going, it doesn't look like he'll be sticking around Eugene for long. No matter, for the time being, Gabella will be using him as much as he can.

"I haven't talked to the front office about what their plans are, so we'll just go about our business with him in the lineup every single day," he said. "When they take him, that's the best thing for the organization, the best thing for Hunter, and we'll deal with that when it happens."

In brief

Playoff bound: The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes clinched the South Division's first-half title with a 4-3 win over Eugene on Wednesday. It is the Volcanoes' first playoff berth since 2009, when they won the league title. In the North Division, Everett is maintaining a three-game lead over the two-time defending champion Vancouver Canadians with just a few games remaining before the break.

Who's hot, who's not: Vancouver RHP Eric Brown is 1-0 with 15 strikeouts in his last 12 innings, having only allowed two earned runs over that span. … Everett OF Reggie Lawson is 6-for-13 with six RBIs in his last four games. … Hillsboro RHP Ross Gerdeman has allowed nine earned runs and 11 hits in his last 10 innings, though he has struck out nine over that span … Boise 2B Jordan Hankins has not recorded an RBI in his last 30 at-bats but is hitting .300 over that span.

He said it: "Whether it's next year or two years from now, I don't care how long it takes. Even if it only happens for a couple months, I want to try and get there." Tri-City SS Alec Mehrten to the Tri-City Herald about eventually making it up to the Colorado Rockies.

Patrick Brown is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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