- In 2010, Nunez signed with the A's (see Transactions below).
Renato had a big summer in 2012 for his U.S. debut in the Arizona Rookie League, tying for second in the loop in RBIs (42) and ranking fifth in slugging (.550).
In 2011, Baseball America rated Nunez as the 16th-best prospect in the A's organization. He was at #26 in the spring of 2012. Then they moved Renato up to #12 in the winter before 2013 spring training.
And they moved Renato up some more in the spring of 2014—up to 5th-best prospect in the A's farm system. Renato was at #4 in the offseason before both 2015 and 2016 spring camps opened. They dropped him to #18 in the spring of 2017, and he fell further to # 20 in the spring of 2018.
Renato is a motivated, intelligent guy that wants to succeed. He always plays hard and has an aggressive personality.
In both 2014 and 2015, Nunez was named to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.And he started for the World Team.
Nunez’s first full winter-ball experience in his home country was a positive experience during the winter before 2017 spring training.
“It gives him another opportunity to continue working on his consistency at the plate,” said Keith Lieppman, Oakland’s long-time farm director. “Winter ball is a great opportunity because you see a lot of breaking balls. He can be a whole lot better, just because the more pitches you see, the more opportunity you have to lay off tough pitches and focus more on balls you want to hit, rather than the tough pitches that nobody can hit.”
Nunez echoed that sentiment in an e-mail interview, stating that he’s facing a lot of pitchers with major league and Triple-A experience. It’s given him the opportunity to better adjust his hitting approach on the fly rather than being able to plan ahead of time.
“Here, you don’t have video,” Nunez said. “You don’t know the pitchers. You’ve just got to go up there and hit. You’ve got to get a plan really quick.” (Bill Mitchell - Baseball America - 1/13/2017)
Renato was named to the 2017 All-Pacific Coast League team and leads all Minor League players with 32 home runs this season, while driving in a team-high 77 runs. "He's probably one of the most polished hitters I've seen," A's first baseman Matt Olson said. "Seeing him get consistent at-bats here would be fun to watch."
"We'll have to find some at-bats for him, because he can really hit, probably as well as any of these guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "And to put up the type of numbers he did and get recognized for it, well deserved, and he must feel good about it. I think it's first and foremost rewarding him and getting him here, and then we'll kind of figure out where the at-bats come."
The situation grows trickier beyond September 2017. Nunez, signed by the A's out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old for $2.2 million in 2010, must remain on the A's 25-man roster next season or be exposed to waivers.
He's the first Sounds player to be recognized on the All-PCL team since infielder Joey Wendle in 2015. "He's had a great year, no doubt," Olson said. "He's been jumping around the field defensively, trying to find a spot, but him at the plate has never been a question. He's a very complete hitter. He has stupid power."
Added Melvin: "In an organization that has a lot of prospects like we do and most of them are kind of in the same group, he kind of gets lost in the shuffle with the Chapmans and the Olsons and the [Chad] Pinders and the Barretos. But you look at his numbers, man, and you talk to these guys that have played with him, he can really hit." (Lee - mlb.com - 8/28/17)
June 15, 2019: Three decades ago, long before his son would emerge into one of the Majors’ breakout sluggers, Renato Nunez Sr. had his own baseball dream derailed. This was in the mid-1980s in baseball-crazed Valencia, Venezuela, a city that would become a pipeline of sorts for big league talent in the years to come. A young teenager at the time, Nunez had shown enough promise to get looks with the country’s national amateur team. A professional career appeared possible, perhaps on the horizon.
Then, a sudden accident changed the trajectory of Nunez’s life. While running with friends in his neighborhood, Nunez collided head-on with a rosebush rife with thorns. One pierced his left pupil, causing Nunez to lose sight in the eye. To this day, he never recovered it.
“I am in love with the game of baseball, passionate about it since I was a little kid,” Nunez said, via telephone from Venezuela, with the help of Orioles translator Ramon Alarcon. “That injury did not allow me to go further in baseball.”
The itch, though, never left Nunez. Even as his focus shifted -- to owning a business, to starting a family -- the tug of the game following him into adulthood. When fatherhood approached, he began envisioning a life for his son he could not have himself.
“Ever since his mom was pregnant with him, I started imagining, dreaming, of having a little boy and him becoming a baseball player,” said Nunez Sr. “I think as soon as I learned it was a boy, I started dreaming about him and talking to him when he was in the belly.”
Flash forward to the present day, and Nunez Sr. calls it an “unbelievable feeling knowing that dream came true.” He’s watched pridefully as his son, Renato Núñez, spent the weeks leading to Father’s Day slugging his way up the MLB home run leaderboards.
“I really think it’s all that energy he put into me,” Nunez said of his father. “That’s a big reason why I’m here.”
By that, Nunez means the passion and drive he says his father instilled in him from a young age, and the support his entire family still provides. They are in constant communication, and each winter, Nunez returns home to the place where he first became enamored with hitting, which he’s always been able to do. Now 25, Nunez laughs at the memory of him as a 10-year-old, so excited to swing that he forgot to bring his glove to a Little League game.
Nunez is creating a sizable network for doing so, from good friend Gleyber Torres to occasional offseason training partners and countrymen Jose Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, whom Nunez grew up idolizing. But still, as it always has, the bulk of the baseball conversation happens between father and son. In many ways, they remain on this big league journey together.
“Fortunately, he became a lover of baseball also. He followed my lead in that regard, but it was a combination of me being in love first,” Nunez Sr. said. “I am living this as if it was my dream. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s his dream, but we're all very happy supporting it.” (J Trezza - MLB.com - June 15, 2019)
July 2, 2010: Nunez trained with Ciro Barios in Venezuela before he signed with scout Julio Franco as a free agent with the A's. His bonus was $2.2 million.
April 15, 2018: The Rangers claimed Nunez off waivers from the A's.
- May 13, 2018: The Orioles claimed infielder Renato Núñez off waivers from the Rangers.
|Birth City:||Valencia, Venezuela|
|Draft:||2010 - A's - Free agent - Out of Venezuela|
Nunez has a very impressive righthanded swing that is fluid and balanced. He hits for both average and (mostly pull-side) power to all fields. He has an aggressive swing with torque and leverage, and the ball jumps off his bat. He has good bat speed. Most of his power is to the pull side, though he can hit the ball as far as anyone. And Renato doesn't hit any ball to the middle or right side of the field.
His bat will have to carry him, and it is good enough to do that. Renato has plenty of strength, and his homers come in all shapes and sizes, both line drives and towering shots. His power is from a combo of bat speed and strength, while the path of the barrel through the zone enables him to create back-spin consistently.
Renato rates a 55 grade for his power, with a less-than-average 45 for his hit tool.
In 2017, Nunez hit 32 homers for Triple-A Nashville. But the problem is he doesn't get the bat on the ball enough to project to make a sizable impact at the major league level, even with his power. He hit .249 with 141 strikeouts. (Spring 2018)
Some observers questioned whether Nunez was simply a mistake hitter who had trouble handling off-speed pitches. But he has made progress in terms of showing he could wait for breaking balls to come to him and take them the other way.
He also developed a better feel for simply learning to take a base hit rather than trying to hit everything out. Renato's mechanics break down when he gets pull-happy, as was the case at the end of 2014 when he started pressing to reach 30 homers.
His power is still developing. But steps he made with his two-strike approach and swing trajectory in 2015, make it more likely he can be a solid-average hitter and not just a slugger.
Renato is a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter. His swing is very pure and he has some natural loft and an ability to generate backspin. He has shortened his righthanded swing, not flying open.
He has a good approach at the plate and a good feel for hitting. He will shorten his swing when he needs to. He can cover all parts of the plate and hit balls hard to all fields. He is a line drive hitter whose home runs generally scream over the wall.
He has the ingredients to hit for average, but in 2014 he was overly aggressive and too often gets himself in bad counts. In 2015, he displayed the ability to drive the ball the other way. He lets the breaking pitches travel deep into the hitting zone. Nunez has a very hard righthanded swing, but now he can reel himself in with two strikes, cutting back his strikeout rate from 20 percent to 16 percent in 2015.
Nunez comes to the plate in attack mode. But with two strikes, he now dials it back a bit. And he's better at waiting for a pitch he can hit. (Spring, 2016)
- One improvement Nunez must make is to better use the whole field instead of trying to hit everything to the left side with his big pull-side power. It’s been an ongoing process for the young slugger since he first signed.
“What usually happens is that guys with big power or pull power, they know that’s going to be their bread and butter,” A's farm director Keith Lieppman said. “They tend to overplay that part of their game.
“When he learns to use the whole field, I think that’s going to be the one element that really helps him . . . be that guy who can take the ball to right-center field. It just expands his game.” (January, 2017)
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Renato's career Major League stats were: .245 batting average, 40 home runs and 198 hits, with 116 RBI in 807 at-bats.
Nunez needs more consistency, via improved focus. But his range is limited and he lacks quick reactions.
His hands are good, and so is his arm. However, poor footwork still leads to erratic throws. In 2015, Renato worked to clean up his footwork and find a consistent release point with his strong arm.
His arm gets a fine 55 grade, while his overall fielding is a nearly average 45 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Renato has only fair athleticism and a solid arm at third base. But his throwing accuracy is a bit erratic. And he will have to improve his hands, agility and footwork to stay there. All of those categories have improved some. But they need more work.
Nunez can also play first base and left field. (Spring 2017)
Though his arm is fine, Nunez doesn't have much speed, and is considered a below-average defensive player. (Spring 2018)
- Renato has made himself into a serviceable third baseman, though consistently making accurate throws remains an issue. He is still below-average in the outfield too.
- Renato is a below-average runner. He gets a 30 grade.
2011: Nunez suffered a concussion after being hit by a pitch and missed time.
March-April 2015: Nunez was on the D.L. with a calf injury.
August 15-26, 2015: Renato was on the D.L.
- March 17-April 15, 2018: Nunez was on the DL with a hammy strain.