BLUF: Offensive and defensive potential to be an impact big leaguer if injuries stay out of the picture.
The Player: Anthony Rendon (3B, Washington Nationals) – Sixth overall pick of the Nationals in 2011 after an injury plagued college career (torn ankle ligaments, broken ankle, strained throwing shoulder) at Rice. Signed late in 2011 and did not make his official pro debut until this year. After just a few games for High-A Potomac, Rendon again hit the DL with another fracture in his ankle. He recently returned to action ad has a .273/.378/.532 line in 25 games spread across four levels of the organization, including an .083 average in three Double-A games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (College), Industry Contacts
Body (5-11, 200): A little smaller frame. Solid overall body with good strength. Solid athlete. Nothing wrong with the body but he doesn’t stand out physically.
Hit: Gifted hitter. Very natural contact ability. Hand-eye coordination is exceptional. Can reach any pitch in any part of the zone with outstanding plate coverage. Excellent pitch recognition and knowledge of the strike zone. Has a plan at the plate and is aggressive on balls he can drive. Uses the whole field well with line-drive ability from pole to pole. Truly outstanding hitter with potential to hit .300 at his peak. Simply needs ABs to get back in rhythm after time off. Grade – 50/70
Power: Still a bit of a question. Opinions vary widely, ranging from fringe-average to plus. Has plus to plus-plus natural bat speed and excellent strength in his forearms, wrists and hands. Makes tons of hard contact and just needs to add more loft and back spin to have true HR power. Will pile up doubles regardless. Comfortably settles in with average HR power and may have peak seasons with better than that. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Above-average raw arm strength. Plays more average most of the time because of a little slower release. More than enough for third base. Grade – 50/50
Fielding: Excellent defender. Very quick reactions to both sides and reads the ball well off the bat, consistently fielding the ball on the correct and/or easy hop. Has soft hands and regularly fields the ball cleanly and without issue. Tools to be a very good defensive 3B and could steal some Gold Gloves. Easy plus defender. Must prove that injuries haven’t sapped any ability, but early returns have been good. Grade – 60/60
Speed: Below-average runner that doesn’t get down the line well and isn’t an asset on the bases. Speed is not problematic but it isn’t a part of his game either. Grade – 40/40
Summation: Outstanding natural hitter and defender. Potential to approach .300 batting averages with very high OBP on a consistent basis. Makes easy contact on all types of pitches. Really good hitter. Bat speed and strength lend to power projection. Could manage 20 home runs in peak seasons. Has a chance to hit in the middle of a big league lineup. Defense at third base has been excellent but injuries may have impacted. Must be re-evaluated as he continues comeback. Injuries are a concern and could be problematic throughout career. High character guy with a strong work ethic. Potential star level offensive contributor that contributes defensively as well.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Continued injury problems are the only risk with Rendon.
Future: Already on a lightning fast track after coming back from his latest injury, Rendon is already with Double-A Harrisburg. Very real chance he gets some small polishing time in Triple-A next year and is then in the big leagues, adding to the young core already in place in Washington. The only question remaining is where he fits in on the big league roster with his natural position (3B) manned by Ryan Zimmerman and questions about whether he can handle second base.