Monday, June 6, 2011

Nationals Draft History: Anthony Rendon

Okay, I guess I'm pushing today's theme a little bit (if you haven't already seen them, check out Nationals Draft History: 2005-07 and 2008-10). But, as a history teacher, I'm supposed to tell you that history is made every day. Today, the Nationals selected Anthony Rendon with the 6th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Don't let the 6th overall pick fool you; Rendon is the best player in the draft. That makes it three straight years that the Nationals have picked the best player.  The Rice University 3B is known for excellent defense, great bat speed and plate discipline. He played a little 2B this year and may be able to play there permanently, but his position isn't what is important right now.

Rendon fell to the Nationals due to his recent injury history. With two severe ankle injuries in the past and a current shoulder strain, teams were a little scared off. Still, when a team has the ability to take the best player available in the entire draft with the #6 overall pick, they need to do it as long as said player has two arms, two legs, two eyes, etc.

Here are Rendon's stats in college:
2009: .388/.468/.702. 94 H/242 AB, 60 R, 14 2B, 1 3B, 20 HR, 72 RBI, 9/11 SB, 31 BB/23 K
2010: .394/.539/.801. 89 H/226 AB, 83 R, 12 2B, 1 3B, 26 HR, 85 RBI, 14/18 SB, 65 BB/22 K
2011: .327/.520/.523. 70 H/214 AB, 58 R, 20 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 13/18 SB, 80 BB/33 K

Some notes on Rendon (in order of the most recent post/article):
From John Sickels, Minor League Ball, 6/14/2011: 
"Although everyone is wondering exactly how bad those medical reports must be, even if Rendon's arm can't handle third base any more, his bat is still excellent." 

From John Sickels, Minor League Ball/Baseball Nation, 6/6/2011:
"Rendon was long projected as the top position player in the 2011 draft, thanks to his power, superior hitting skills, superb plate discipline, and excellent defense at third base. However, he was hampered by shoulder injuries all spring, limiting him to DH most of the time and causing teams to wonder if he can remain at third...Rendon's ETA to the major leagues, and perhaps even his position, will depend on how his shoulder recovers. Reports/rumors are mixed, but it seems that the Mariners (expected to pick him second overall) may have been scared off by his medical reports. If his arm is OK, Rendon has the tools and skills to reach the major leagues very quickly, within two years and perhaps just a single year without further physical setbacks. A healthy Rendon projects as an on-base machine with good power and excellent defensive ability at third base. The Nationals may have a steal here."

From Marc Hulet, FanGraphs 2011 Draft Live Blog, 6/6/2011: 
"Washington: Anthony Rendon, 3B (Rice U): Perhaps the famous Rice University injury curse is spreading from the pitchers to the hitters. Rendon has been the consensus first overall pick for the 2011 draft since his eye-opening freshman year of college. However, injury concerns - most recently his shoulder, and previously his ankle - have clouded his draft status. Seattle is known to be very interested but he could end up sliding a bit with reports of so-so medical reports that team doctors are no doubt pouring over until the very last minute. If all goes as hoped, Rendon has the chance to be a Gold Glove fielder with 20+ home run potential and a solid batting average."

From Larry Stone, The Seattle Times, 6/6/2011:
"Going into this year, Rendon was the consensus No. 1 pick, and no one thought the Mariners had a chance to get him at No. 2. Three things changed: One, Cole got off to a sensational start and developed a changeup to supplement a fastball that gained in velocity to occasionally over 100 mph. Two, Rendon got a shoulder strain that raised issues about whether he is injury prone while limiting him to DH duties most of the year. And three, Rendon's offensive statistics dropped dramatically, particularly his power. Now, if you believe that No. 2 is largely responsible for No. 3 (along with new bat regulations that resulted in a 40 percent decline in home runs in collegiate baseball), and, furthermore, you believe the injury is not serious long-term, then the Mariners should be ecstatic to get Rendon at No. 2."

From John Klima, Project Prospect, 6/5/2011:
"Do I think Rendon can hit? Yes. Do I think he will hit? Probably. Am I sold he will? No. Why? Two words: The Medicals. I’m sorry, if I’m spending a lot of my boss’s money on a guy with a recent history that includes joint injuries – I’m talking shoulders and ankles at a very young age – then that’s a big turn off for me. No. I’ll take my chances somewhere else."

"What I do think? Too expensive and too many risks. I would be more comfortable with this guy somewhere in the middle of the first round than I would be with one of the very first picks of any draft. Hey, look, nobody drafts for me. I draft for me. If you have risks, I will find them, and if I see warning signs – and on this boy, oh yes I do – then I’ll find someone else."

From Nick Piecoro, Arizona Republic, 5/30/2011:
"There are many theories for the offensive decline. The NCAA mandating the use of less potent bats. The pressure of being the country's top prospect. Other teams not giving him pitches to hit, leading to 76 walks, most in the nation. Not getting into the rhythm of the game by being limited to designated hitter....(Rice coach Wayne) Graham even cited Rice's Reckling Park, where he said the wind uncharacteristically blew in all season long."

"'He has a very low-maintenance swing,' said a National League scouting director. 'He's going to hit, and you just can't say that about a whole lot of people in any draft. The downside is he has a history of injuries. And sometimes people with a history of injuries continue to have a history of injuries.'"

"'The (shoulder) muscle won't heal until he gets enough rest,' Graham said. 'It might be something more, but it's not something they can't correct with surgery.' Rendon, who said he hurt the shoulder stretching before the season, was asked if he thought he would need surgery...'I'm just going to take the summer to rehab it and rest it. I'm not going to pick up a ball or anything and make sure it heals.'"

From Jeff Reese, MLB Bonus Baby, 5/26/2011:
"The shoulder injury is being blamed for his somewhat underwhelming offensive numbers with some saying it has affected his bat speed. If that's the case, his bat speed must have been completely off the charts prior to this year as the player I saw certainly had no shortage in that area of his game. Indeed, he has some of the most impressive bat speed that I have ever seen at this level, making up for his lack of physicality; it is not hard to see above-average power at the major league level. Rendon has been pitched around all season, and I believe that is the biggest contributor to his stunted power output."

"It is easy to forget that Rendon played third base during the first series of the year against Stanford. His speed looked completely unaffected by the past ankle injuries, and he showed the same impressive range that we have come to expect. Buster Olney tweeted on Monday that he has 'spoken with more teams that project Anthony Rendon as a second baseman, rather than third baseman, because of body type, arm concerns.' Unless the shoulder injury is structural in nature and a long term concern, that would be a monumental mistake. He has everything necessary to be an elite level defender at third base."

"The injuries have been exceedingly inconvenient, certainly affecting his value to Rice, but long term, we are looking at the same player as we were a year ago. He has the highest ceiling in this draft – some will certainly disagree with that opinion – while also having the best chance to reach it."

From David Brandt, AP (via Washington Post), 5/25/2011:
"Rendon leads all of NCAA Division I with 76 walks so far this season, as pitchers have avoided him at nearly all cost. Tossing the bat toward the dugout for a slow jog toward first base isn’t his first choice, but if this season’s taught him anything, it’s patience. 'Of course as a hitter, I want to go up there and knock the crap out of the ball,' Rendon said. 'That’s what I want to do. But I can’t go out there and hurt my teammates by swinging at balls in the dirt. You’ve got to take it how it is.'"

"Rendon 'has great wrists,' said Graham...'His hands work so well. He’s got a very similar bat action to Aaron. The way they load their hands, and the bat angle as they get ready to hit. The swings are nearly identical.'

From Nick Faleris, Diamond Scape Scouting, 4/17/2011:
"Rendon in 140 characters or less: True five-tool talent; no apparent holes; potential elite bat and glove; above-average speed, +baserunner; team leader with pure approach."

"Rendon's bat is special. He generates very good bat speed through a strong core, maintaining and then transferring the force in his swing through his strong wrists. The top notch bat speed produces loud contact as often as any amateur in the game, and portends an ability to hit for average and power (despite his unimposing physical appearance) at the next level."

"Rendon is the rare five-tool talent with game changing ability in each category...and an intricate feel for the game on defense, in the batters box and on the basepaths."

From John Sickels, Minor League Ball, 4/6/2011:
"Shoulder injury has bugged him and consensus number one pick pre-season may drop all the way to number two. I still think he's an outstanding prospect with terrific plate discipline, power, and excellent defense, perhaps something like a blending of David Wright and Evan Longoria."

From Steve Carter, Project Prospect, 7/15/2010:
"I contacted our old friend, Mr. Veteran Scout, to see what his thoughts were on Rendon: 'Rendon has a lot going on here. He has knack [for hitting] foremost. He does have a good swing in the game. Gets the ball deep. He can hit. Has always hit. Even when he was little. Has some ego that he will have to over come but he projects to be a plus hitter with plus power. Has a plus arm and solid glove. Just not a good runner. Possibly the best bat in country.'"

"He gives his barrel an earlier start than most hitters, which allows him to build up bat speed before he launches his swing. Because of his ability to accellerate the barrel so quickly, Rendon is also able to wait longer than most hitters before he has to commit to the pitch. While some players are unable to reach max velocity with the head of their bat until well after contract, Rendon's early bat speed means his barrel will be up to speed quicker and more efficiently."

"There is no such thing as a "sure thing" in prospectdom, but Rendon is almost as good as it gets. He is adept at making adjustments on the fly and utilizes video of opponents to seek out any weaknesses they may have -- something young players often don't learn to do until well down the road."

"To reiterate what Veteran Scout said earlier: 'Plus power, plus hit tool, plus arm, solid glove" and a mechanically fantastic swing to boot. On top of all that, he adds in outstanding patience at the plate. He doesn't just dictate the at-bat the second he walks into the box, he rules it with an iron fist.'"

Carter also compared Rendon's wrists and bat speed to that of Hank Aaron, as Rice coach Wayne Graham did.

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