The Curious Case of Anthony Rendon

Posted: April 22, 2013 in by Freddy Berowski
Tags: , ,

The number six overall pick of the 2011 MLB amateur draft, Anthony Rendon made his Major League debut against the New York Mets this past Sunday.  Batting 6th in the lineup and playing third base, the highly touted Nationals prospect went 0-4 with 2 K’s against league-average pitching.  But to be fair, that set of league-average pitching held the entire Nats lineup to only 4 hits on the day.

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 4.21.09 PMRendon was arguably the best bat in the 2011 draft, selected behind only Royals outfielder Bubba Starling.  It was interesting at the time that the Mariners passed on Rendon with the number two pick in favor of Danny Hultzen, knowing M’s GM Jack Zduriencik tendency toward drafting high-upside hitters.  He did, after all, draft Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder during his time with Milwaukee.

There is no denying Rendon’s ability to get on base and that’s exactly what the Nats hope he can do right now.   Over two-plus years in the minors he’s posted .391 OBP.  He is also a very good defender at the hot corner and his glove is not in question.  One of the many questions relating to the coming of the Rice University product is how much power will he show when it’s time for him to become a permanent fixture in the Nats line-up.  When that will be is another question.

Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day DL so at the very least we’ll get a reasonable sample size to see how ready Rendon is. But clearly the Nationals 100 million dollar man isn’t going anywhere, except perhaps, across the diamond.  Zim’s defensive struggles have been well documented and it wouldn’t be a surprise, if Rendon tears the cover off the ball over the next two weeks, that he keeps that spot and Zim moves to first base with Adam LaRoche possibly becoming trade bait or tested in the outfield.  Or perhaps, they move Rendon over to second base and wait until the offseason to move LaRoche out of town.

Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 4.20.53 PMThere is certainly time for Rendon to develop some more power as he is, after all, only 22 years old.  I think in time, his right-handed bat might generate 15-18 home runs a season.  That, combined with a good batting average, very good defense and great plate discipline should make Rendon a fixture in the Nats lineup for years to come.  But that time is most likely further down the road. Rendon hasn’t even played a game at Triple-A and he did look a little overmatched against Dillon Gee and company.  I think it’s a great idea to give Rendon a taste of the big leagues, but only a taste. Expect Rendon to go back to the minors when Zimmerman returns in two weeks, only this time instead of Double-A Harrisburg, it will be Triple-A Syracuse.

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