Home runs in back-to-back games, including a walk-off for San Diego on Monday night, is a good sign for Hunter Renfroe, who has been struggling of late. Here’s another: The Mississippi State product from Crystal Springs has walked nine times in his last nine games. He walked twice in his first 30 games this season. Being more selective should translate to being more productive. “He’s making an adjustment back to the league right now and that’s really good to see,” Padres manager Andy Green told The Associated Press. Renfroe’s homer on Monday – on a 3-2 pitch in the 10th inning against Milwaukee’s Oliver Drake – was his seventh of the season and first career walk-off. “That’s pretty special,” Renfroe said. He lifted his average, which had dipped to .200 a few days ago, to .217, and he now has 17 RBIs. He has fanned 43 times in 143 at-bats. In his 11-game MLB debut in 2016, he hit .371 with four homers and five punchouts in 35 at-bats. P.S. Ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson (see previous post) was back on the Chicago White Sox’s bench on Monday and is expected to be back in the lineup tonight against the Los Angeles Angels.
The numbers are in. MLB’s Statcast numbers, that is, on Hunter Renfroe’s ginormous home run, the one that went where no ball has gone before – the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. building beyond the left-field wall at San Diego’s Petco Park. Statcast put the distance of Wednesday night’s blast at 434 feet and the exit velocity of the ball off the bat at 109 mph. “I think we all know he’s got a ton of raw power. I wasn’t expecting that,” Padres manager Andy Green told mlb.com. Former Mississippi State star Renfroe, 6 feet 1, 220 pounds, now has four homers in 21 MLB at-bats, with 12 RBIs and six runs. No doubt there are some old Copiah Academy fans who are saying today, “Oh yeah, we saw this coming.” Renfroe hit a Mississippi private school-record 20 bombs for Copiah as a senior just six short years ago. He hit 15 homers his junior year at the Gallman school. He started slowly at State but flexed his muscles as a junior in 2013, belting 16 homers (while batting .345) and earning All-America honors. He also won the Ferriss Trophy that year and was drafted in the first round by the Padres. He hit 77 minor league homers before crashing The Show on Sept. 21. Elsewhere in MLB: Ole Miss product Seth Smith drove in two runs to help Seattle crush Houston 12-4 and hang 2 games out of an American League wild card berth. … Jarrod Dyson, the former Southwest Mississippi Community College star, got two hits, two runs and his 29th steal of the year as Kansas City beat Minnesota 5-2. But Ned Yost’s Royals were eliminated from AL wild card contention just the same. … The fingerprints of former Mississippi Braves were all over Atlanta’s 12-2 win against Philadelphia. The incredible Freddie Freeman extended his hit streak to 30 games; rookie Dansby Swanson – who can play a little, too – went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs; Daniel Castro had three hits and three RBIs; Mallex Smith scored a run; John Gant threw a scoreless inning; and Rio Ruiz got his first big league knock, a triple. … And a blast from another past: John Jaso’s cycle was the first by a Pittsburgh player since former Jackson Generals star Daryle Ward turned the trick in 2004. Ward had five career triples.
This audition, if that’s what it is, is going rather nicely for Hunter Renfroe. The Crystal Springs native and Mississippi State alum belted two homers and drove in a San Diego rookie record seven runs on Tuesday in a 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Boy can play,” winning pitcher Paul Clemens, the former Mississippi Braves star, told mlb.com. “Boy can play the game.” Renfroe, who hit 30 bombs in Triple-A this year, is 6-for-17 with three homers and eight RBIs since his call-up. His second homer on Tuesday was a grand slam and came against fellow Mississippian Louis Coleman. Renfroe is wearing No. 71; he figures to have a lower number next season, when he figures to start in right field for the Padres. Elsewhere in MLB: McComb’s Jarrod Dyson, batting leadoff for Kansas City, sparked the Royals’ 4-3, 11-inning win over Minnesota, scoring a run and driving in a run. The Royals remain alive, barely, in the American League wild card race. … Former Ole Miss star Chris Coghlan, bidding for a spot on the Chicago Cubs’ postseason roster, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in a 6-4 win that eliminated Pittsburgh from postseason contention. Ex-State standout Adam Frazier, having a fine rookie year (.299) for the Pirates, drew a walk and scored a run. … Texas, 93-65 and vying for best record in the AL, beat Milwaukee 6-4, with State product Mitch Moreland contributing a 1-for-4 effort and flawless defense at first base. … UM alum Seth Smith drove in a run for Seattle, but the Mariners squandered a lead and lost to Houston 8-4 in a key game between AL wild card contenders. … In a game that meant essentially nothing, East Central CC alum Tim Anderson went 3-for-5 with his eighth homer to power the Chicago White Sox to a 13-6 victory against Tampa Bay, which got two hits from Meridian CC’s Corey Dickerson. … Boston announced that ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz (sore forearm) won’t start again this season and will work out of the bullpen in the postseason — if he makes the roster. Left-hander Pomeranz, who has worked a career-high in innings between San Diego and Boston, is 3-5 with a 4.68 ERA for the Red Sox.
A sliver of the baseball spotlight will be trained tonight on Memphis’ AutoZone Park, where Hunter Renfroe will lead El Paso against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a one-game showdown for the Triple-A championship. Renfroe, the ex-Mississippi State star from Crystal Springs, hit .306 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs and won Pacific Coast League MVP honors with the Chihuahuas, a San Diego affiliate. International League champ SWB, a New York Yankees affiliate, is managed by former Jackson Mets star Al Pedrique. Both clubs feature several top prospects. Jonathan Holder, another MSU product, spent part of this season with SWB but is now in the big leagues. Renfroe, rated the Padres’ No. 3 prospect by mlb.com, may be in line for a call-up to The Show, but he says all he is focused on at the moment is his current team and tonight’s game. “San Diego will always be there, and when the time comes for them to make a decision, I’ll be here,” he told The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. The NBC Sports Network will televise the 7:05 game. P.S. For the first time in his seven seasons in the majors, Mitch Moreland was ejected from a game. Former State standout Moreland got tossed in the fourth inning Monday by home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley after “disputing,” while walking away, a called third strike during Texas’ game against the Los Angeles Angels. “It was obviously a pitch I didn’t agree with,” Moreland said in an mlb.com article. The Rangers won 3-2 in walk-off fashion, reducing their magic number for clinching the American League West to 3.
The El Paso Chihuahuas’ season goes on, which apparently means Hunter Renfroe’s much-anticipated big league debut is on hold. Former Mississippi State star Renfroe, the Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP, hit a go-ahead home run on Saturday that propelled El Paso into the PCL Championship Series, which will begin on Tuesday. When San Diego traded Melvin Upton and Matt Kemp in late July, it appeared it was clearing space in the outfield for prospects like Renfroe, who is among the Padres’ most highly regarded. The 2013 first-round pick has had a big year with the bat in the hitter-friendly PCL: .306, 30 homers, 34 doubles, 105 RBIs, .557 slugging percentage. And he’s also a good right fielder with a plus arm. If the Padres wait until El Paso’s playoff run is over to promote Renfroe, he’d still have a couple of weeks to audition for a regular job in 2017. Eight Mississippians (natives or college alums) have debuted in MLB in 2016: Chad Girodo, Chris Stratton, Tim Anderson, Cody Reed, Adam Frazier, Mike Mayers, JaCoby Jones and Jonathan Holder. P.S. Former Southern Miss standout Bradley Roney got the save in Saturday’s clincher as Triple-A Gwinnett beat Columbus 5-4 to advance to the International League finals. Roney is 4-for-4 in save chances with a 3.57 ERA and three wins in 27 games for the G-Braves this season. He had a 2.82 in 17 games for the Double-A Mississippi Braves, who are now in the Southern League title series. Atlanta’s low-A Rome club reached the South Atlantic League finals, fueled in part by DeSoto Central product Austin Riley, who went 3-for-10 with four RBIs in the first round series. Riley, Atlanta’s top pick in 2015, is batting .270 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs.
So, Pacific Coast League managers and coaches really like ex-Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe. He was rated the Most Exciting Player, the Best Hitter and the Best Outfield Arm in the Triple-A league in Baseball America’s recently released poll on the top tools in the minors and majors. Renfroe is hitting .321 with 27 home runs, 93 RBIs and 16 outfield assists for El Paso; he is expected to be a September call-up by San Diego. Ole Miss alum Stuart Turner, now in the Minnesota system, was rated the Best Defensive Catcher in the Double-A Southern League, and Harrison Central High product Bobby Bradley (Cleveland) got the nod as the Best Power Prospect in the Class A Carolina League. The Mississippi Braves’ infield got a lot of love from Southern League managers and coaches. Dansby Swanson was rated the Best Defensive Shortstop, Ozzie Albies the Best Defensive Second Baseman and Johan Camargo — who has played second, short and third — the Best Infield Arm. In addition, Albies was tagged the Most Exciting Player. Not surprisingly, McComb’s Jarrod Dyson (Kansas City) and Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati) were ranked Fastest Baserunner in the AL and NL. … On the subject of standout tools, former M-Braves star Jeff Francoeur doesn’t show up in the NL poll for Best Outfield Arm, perhaps because he doesn’t play everyday. But he gunned down a runner for Atlanta on Friday night and now has seven assists for the season and a remarkable 133 in his 12 big league campaigns. P.S. Wondering how former Ole Miss star Mike Mayers has fared since returning to Triple-A after his rocky MLB debut? Not that great. Mayers has yielded 10 runs in 14 2/3 innings over three starts (two losses) for Memphis; he is now 3-4 with a 3.36 ERA. Mayers made an emergency start for St. Louis on July 24 and gave up nine runs in 1 1/3 innings. Think the Cardinals miss Lance Lynn, the UM product out for the season after Tommy John surgery? Lynn won 60 games over the previous four seasons, making 126 starts overall and registering more than 175 innings in each year.
Hunter Renfroe’s good year keeps getting better. The Mississippi State product from Crystal Springs produced a four-hit game that included a grand slam on Monday night, powering Triple-A El Paso to a 13-3 win against Reno. Renfroe, 24, a right fielder, leads all of Triple-A in home runs with 18 and is second in RBIs with 67. Renfroe now has 65 homers in roughly three seasons in the minors. He has hit .351 over his last 10 games to boost his average to .324. “He’s learning with every at-bat now, which is good for him,” El Paso manager Morgan Burkhart told milb.com. San Diego brass must be seriously considering a promotion. Some in the San Diego media have been calling for it for some time. P.S. In the big leagues, Desmond Jennings, the former Itawamba Community College star, is showing some signs of coming around for Tampa Bay. Jennings homered for the second straight day on Monday, helping the Rays snap their 11-game losing streak with a 13-7 victory over Boston. Jennings, getting more playing time of late for the injury-plagued Rays, has hit .261 over his last seven games to move his long-suffering average to .200 with seven homers and 18 RBIs. … Taylorsville High alum Billy Hamilton, slumping since his return from a concussion, had a productive night for Cincinnati in a loss to the Chicago Cubs (and the amazing Kris Bryant). Hamilton had a hit, two walks, a sac bunt, two steals and two runs. He is batting .258 with 19 bags and 32 runs in 62 games. His defense in center field is about as good as it gets.