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Padres pick college slugger in Round 1

Padres pick college slugger in Round 1

Padres pick college slugger in Round 1

DENVER -- The first time Padres scout Andrew Salvo saw Hunter Renfroe play baseball, he did a little bit of everything.

Not just that, but Renfroe did everything really well.

"Before the game, he was crushing balls all over the place. Then he goes out and run and he runs well. And he's got a cannon for an arm in the outfield. Then he goes 93-94 [mph] out of the bullpen," Salvo said. "I was like something out of 'The Natural.'"

Salvo was elated on Thursday when the Padres used their first pick, No. 13 overall, on Renfroe, an outfielder for Mississippi State University.

"I think he's going to be like Nelson Cruz-type ... a .270 hitter, hit 25 bombs and can run," Salvo said.

Renfroe might be something of a late bloomer, coming from a small high school (Copiah Academy in Crystal Springs, Miss.) to arguably the most competitive college baseball conference. He flourished this season, producing a .352/.440/.634 slash line with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Renfroe's team is still playing. Mississippi State is getting ready to play in a Super Regional tournament starting on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. A junior, Renfroe gave the impression on Thursday that he's ready to begin his professional career, one that would start with short-season Eugene once he signs.

Renfroe, who is stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 216 pounds, is something of a late bloomer, though Salvo saw him put in a show while playing for Bethesda Big Train in the summer of 2011 in the Cal Ripken League. He was at an All-Star game for the league when Salvo first saw him.

It took Renfroe a while to find his footing at Mississippi State. He hit .154 his first season and .252 as a sophomore before blossoming this season.

"I didn't see competitive pitching, not like we have in the SEC," Renfroe said of the competition he faced in high school. "The summer ball helped a lot. It was a transformation going from a small school to an SEC school. It did take me a little time to get acclimated.

"I do think my best days are ahead of me. Everything is getting better."

The Padres, who also had Day 1 picks at 50 and 69, were looking to go with a position player with their first pick, and it might well have been D.J. Peterson, a corner infielder from the University of New Mexico. But Peterson went one pick ahead of Renfroe, with the Mariners grabbing him at No. 12.

But if Peterson was 1A, Renfroe was probably 1B and might offer more upside in the long run for a club looking to infuse their pitching-rich system with some position players in this Draft.

"It all seems like it's starting to click for him now," Salvo said.

Salvo figures he saw Renfroe seven times this spring alone and probably saw 30 plate appearances.

"He just puts together consistently good at-bats," Salvo said. "Those swings and misses and those outs ... you're literally on the edge of your seat watching."

If the Padres can get a deal done quickly with Renfroe, he will likely report to the team's temporary training facility in Surprise, Ariz. He would then likely head to short-season Eugene of the Northwest League. The Emeralds begin their season on June 14.

The Padres have $6,808,900 to spend on their first 11 Draft picks. The pick value for Renfroe's slot is $2.678 million. Teams face substantial penalties if they exceed the bonus pool.

Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.

MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["draft_central" ] }
{"event":["draft_central" ] }