2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Hunter Renfroe

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Those who follow prospects in any way at all should be familiar with Hunter Renfroe. He is a former first-round pick and a top 100 overall prospect the last two years. He was also MVP of the Pacific Coast League last season, mashing to the tune of an .893 OPS with 30 HR and 105 RBI. It marked the third out of four minor league seasons in which he totaled at least 20 HR and 75 RBI.

This hardly seems like sleeper material, but the fact is that Renfroe's current ADP may be way too low. Rookies are hard to trust in fantasy drafts, but if you're looking for upside in the power categories, Renfroe may trump some bigger names that are being selected ahead of him.

Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

Bargain Hunter?

Minor league stats aside, Renfroe enjoyed his first cup of coffee in the majors toward the tail end of last season. Padres fans enjoyed it quite a bit too, as they saw the Futures All-Star light up big league pitching in his 11-game stint. Renfroe collected 13 hits in 35 at-bats (.370 AVG), while smashing four homers and driving in 14 runs.

He showed good discipline for a slugger as well, striking out just five times. That means his 11.1% HR% and 13.9% K% were almost identical. For perspective, Kris Bryant toted a 5.6% HR% and a 22.0% K% in his MVP 2016 season. Of course, Bryant played much more than 11 games, so it is misleading to make too much of these limited statistics for Renfroe.

Small sample sizes are often the death knell of many a fantasy team. Miguel Sano pulled this trick on us last year and he was an even higher-rated prospect than Renfroe. The difference is that Renfroe isn't swinging for the fences every time, but is more prone to contact. Sano was a .257 hitter in the minors, whereas Renfroe hit .281 over four minor league seasons, including averages of .333 and .306 in 2014 and 2015. Renfroe could stand to take more walks, so leagues that use OBP and/or points leagues that include walks may lower him just a bit in their rankings. This type of upside is hard to ignore, however, given his recent track record and clear path to playing time.

Early data from NFBC rankings indicate that Renfroe is the 55th outfielder taken on average, with an ADP of 236 overall. Players taken just ahead of him include Max Kepler, Randal Grichuk, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson. Once you get past the first few tiers, there is risk involved with any pick. After a torrid stretch, Kepler fell hard and ended the season hitting .235. Grichuk didn't fare much better, with a .289 OBP and a temporary demotion to the minors at one point. With two full seasons under his belt, Pederson is a .224 hitter with 311 strikeouts.

Renfroe comes with a bit of uncertainty, but he projects for a much higher average than all those players with the potential to match or surpass their power numbers. Chances are that a prospect like Renfroe would be valued much higher if he were playing in a big market rather than San Diego. Renfroe shouldn't just be valued highly in keeper leagues. He has a legitimate chance to be a solid fourth outfielder in re-draft leagues for 2017.


Check out RotoBaller's entire 2017 fantasy baseball waiver wire pickups and sleepers list, updated daily!



2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings