After watching coveted pitchers Danny Hultzen get scooped up by teams ahead of them (at No.’s 2 and 3 respectively) and seeing high school center fielder Bubba Starling go to the Royals at No. 5 the Nationals selected Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
We’ll have much more on the site later about the pick, as well as about the Nationals’ selections at No. 23 and No. 34.
But here’s a quick scouting report on the third baseman, who was drafted in the 27th round out of high school by Roy Clark and the Atlanta Braves. Clark is now the Assistant GM and VP of Player Personnel with the Nationals, so there are relationships there. Rendon was a consensus No. 1 last year for this year’s draft but injuries have hampered him since that ranking.
Here’s what ESPN.com’s Keith Law had to say about Rendon:
Rendon entered the year as the most likely No. 1 overall pick and could still go there, although he’s no longer first on my list. His bat speed is outstanding and he’s an extremely disciplined hitter who is willing and able to lay off a pitch a few millimeters outside the strike zone. When healthy, he’s a plus defender at third base with a great first step and a plus arm. Even without any physical projection remaining — he’s just under six feet and well-built, but doesn’t look like he’ll add much weight going forward — he’s the kind of hitter who could win batting titles with average to above-average power.
His flaws aren’t many, but they are worth noting. Once Rendon gets his hands going forward, it’s an outstanding swing, but he has a lot of excess movement before that point, often failing to come fully set, and it has led to timing issues that can leave him swinging right through fastballs in the zone. He’s also facing questions about his ability to stay healthy, as his junior spring has been slowed by a sore shoulder that has kept him from playing the field some of the time; this follows major injuries to both ankles in the past two years.
Assuming the team doctors clear him, though, it’s tough to match his potential to hit for average, get on base, and provide plus defense at third, making him the top college position player in the draft.
And the official release from the Nationals:
Rendon hit .371 (253-for-682) with 46 doubles, 52 home runs, 194 RBI, 176 walks and 201 runs scored in 187 games spanning three seasons with Rice. Rendon posted a staggering on-base percentage of .505 during his collegiate career.
The 21 year-old Rendon batted .327 and posted career highs with 20 doubles and an NCAA-leading 80 walks in 63 games this season.
Last season, Rendon won the Howser Trophy as the nation’s top amateur player after hitting .394 with a career-high 26 home runs and 85 RBI as a sophomore. Rendon’s efforts in 2010 also garnered citations from the American Base ball Coaches Association (Rawlings Sporting Goods National Player of the Year) and Baseball America (National Player of the Year).
Rendon was a Howser and Golden Spikes semifinalist in ‘09, and was recognized as the top freshman in the nation by numerous organizations, upon hitting .388 with 20 homers and 72 RBI during his first season at Rice.
The 6-foot, 190-lbs. Rendon is considered a plus defender at third base and was consistently rated by industry-insider Baseball America as the top position player in the 2011 Draft.