Excitement always surrounds a top pick, but the real work can only being once that player is signed. Hunter Renfroe took a little longer to sign that many of the Padres' 2013 draft picks. At the time he was drafted, the Mississippi State Bulldog was in the midst of a College World Series run that saw he and his team reach the final round only to lose to UCLA. Since he was still participating in this amateur tournament, he could not negotiate with the Padres at that time. That tournament ended a little over two weeks ago and although there were assurances from local media that a deal would get done, previous Padres drafting failures left many waiting anxiously for a contract to get signed.
The deal did get done and it was for a reported $2,678,000 in signing bonus money. That's good enough to be the 6th highest signing bonus ever dished out to a draft pick. Other high singing bonus amounts were $6,250,000 to 2009 draftee Donavan Tate, $3,150,000 in 2004 to Matt Bush, $3,000,000 to both 2012 draftee Max Fried and 2011 draftee Austin Hedges and $2,750,000 to 2011 draftee Joe Ross. The Padres kept about $500,000 in slot money free locking up Renfroe for this amount and immediately turned around used $175,000 to lock up 25th round pick Tony Rizzoti. Rizzoti is a right handed pitcher out of Tulane who projects well, but slid in the draft due to injury issues that should clear up with time. The team had already signed their other top 19 selections from this draft.
Proud of their new first round pick signing, the Padres had Hunter Renfroe on display Tuesday at Petco Park. The decked him out in Padres gear (as seen above). They had him take batting practice. He threw out the first pitch. In the second inning he joined Dick Enberg and Mark Sweeney in the booth. Later he gladhanded Padres fans out on the new Jack Daniels patio in right field and answered a social media related question from Megan Olivi on air.
After his big day he is now headed north to hook up with the Padres Short Season A ball affiliate Eugene Emeralds in Oregon. It is expected that with a good showing in the Northwest League, he could be quickly promoted to Fort Wayne to finish the season.
Here's some of the highlights of his on air conversation during Tuesday's game.
- His name is his hobby. Likes to hunt.
- He is proudest of his batting average. He hit "2 something" in his Sophomore year and knew he had to prove himself this season.
- Felt comfortable hitting BP with a wooden bat. Swung with a wood bat a little in the fall. Thinks that the wooden bats at the professional level have more pop in them than the bats currently used in college baseball. Showed this by hitting a HR to the visitor's bullpen during BP.
- Hit a line drive HR in the College World Series. One of only 3 HRs hit in Omaha.
- Used to pitch back in the day. Claims to have thrown it 98-99 MPH.
- Works hard at being able to utilize his arm from the RF position. Says that throwing guys out is "one of the special things he gets to do".
- Likes the number 11.
- Favorite player growing up was Chipper Jones.
- Thought it was "awesome" to be compared to former Angel Tim Salmon.
- Gets his athletic talent from both mom and dad. Dad played baseball in high school and could have played in college, mom was all state in track and basketball "and stuff like that".
- Likes the San Diego weather.