Scouting profile: Renato Nunez
The Oakland Athletics have always been active and aggressive in the international market. In 2010, they signed then-16-year-old Renato Nunez from Carabobo, Venezuela.
I was able to scout the right-handed-hitting and throwing Nunez in the recent Arizona Fall League. What I observed was outstanding upside as a hitter with power and strength to hit both home runs and gap doubles. I had previously seen Nunez in both the 2014 All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis and at the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.
Nunez is a solid 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. He is ranked No. 6 on the Athletics' Top 30 Prospects list. Nunez is on the club's 40-man roster.
Every time I see Nunez play, I am more impressed. He is a strong and well-developed hitter with plenty of raw power. In parts of five seasons, Nunez has compiled a career Minor League batting average of .276. He has stroked 75 home runs and has driven in 312. Those are impressive numbers, and they don't include Nunez's outstanding Fall League season.
In Arizona, Nunez hit four homers, drove in 10 and finished with a .296 batting average against good pitching.
Nunez does not get cheated at the plate. Not as aggressive as he was in the past, but rarely seeing a pitch he didn't want to clobber, his extension is good, as he doesn't cut his swing short at all. Nunez drives the ball to the gaps. He is very tough on left-handed pitchers. Nunez is especially strong facing those that have high-velocity fastballs. He can also hit right-handers, just not with the same robust success as against lefties.
In his rookie season in the Dominican Summer League, Nunez made 30 errors in 202 chances. When I saw him this past autumn, Nunez looked only average at best at third base. I think he lacks confidence in his range and agility.
While I think it is safe to say that Nunez will be known for power and his emerging hit tool, even though he is improving, his defense will be a question that surrounds him for the foreseeable future. His reaction time and reflexes seem a tick late.
Nunez's footwork issues may correct with additional time and seasoning. It wouldn't be out of the question for him to become a permanent designated hitter or even try his hand at first base.
Nunez is the type of player that could turn the home run tool on at any point in a game. He has a strong upper body and enough lower-body strength to convert his long, aggressive swing to home runs that leave the park in a hurry. The power is real.
Nunez has a solid big league arm that is well suited at third base.
The two areas of most concern as I watched Nunez play were his overly aggressive swing and his mediocre defense. Should he learn to be more selective, his swing will work. When Nunez goes out of the strike zone to offer at pitches, he plays into the pitcher's plan.
Nunez does not have much speed at all.
I find this interesting
The California League is known as hitter-friendly, but in his 2014 season at Class A Advanced Stockton, Nunez powered his way to 29 homers and 96 RBIs in 562 plate appearances. This past season, foot injuries limited his playing time at Double-A Midland. Nunez had 416 plate appearances and hit 18 homers. With his four additional long balls in Arizona, he finished the season with 22 home runs.
The future for Nunez
The Athletics have a major investment in Nunez, and they will be patient with both his aggressive swing at the plate and his defense at third base. His worst-case scenario will be as a designated hitter capable of breaking open a game with a late home run.
It is not unreasonable that Nunez could be in Oakland at some point this coming season.
Nunez in a word