Monday, February 20, 2012

Rendon will work out across infield

US Presswire file photo
Anthony Rendon was drafted out of Rice as a third baseman.
VIERA, Fla. -- Anthony Rendon was just beginning his junior season at Rice University one year ago. This morning, the 21-year-old was sitting at his locker inside the Nationals' clubhouse, a bona fide member of the spring training roster, and trying not to pinch himself.

"It feels like just yesterday I was playing select ball, growing up," he said. "And the next thing you know, I'm right here. It's pretty awesome."

Rendon knows he has no chance to make the Opening Day roster. He hasn't even played an inning of minor-league ball since the Nationals drafted him sixth overall last June. But he should get plenty out of his first professional spring training, most notably an opportunity to work at multiple infield positions.

Drafted as a third baseman, Rendon expects to see time at both shortstop and second base this spring after meeting with manager Davey Johnson this morning.

"I just talked to skipper, and he said I'll probably be moving around from third to short and second," Rendon said. "He said he wanted to work on my footwork at second base before I go out there, because it's a different world on that side of the infield."

Johnson downplayed that notion some later this afternoon, saying he might have Rendon play shortstop some but that he wouldn't be at second base until getting at least a two-week, crash-course lesson in the position.

"I look at you at third, but for the purpose of getting you in some games here I may have to play you at short," Johnson said he told Rendon. "And he said he didn't have a problem with that."

The reason for the potential switch is obvious: The Nationals already have Ryan Zimmerman firmly entrenched at third base. Though the "Face of the Franchise" is only signed through 2013, the two sides have been working on a long-term extension, one that could keep Zimmerman in D.C. the rest of his career.

That could require an eventual position change for Rendon, who doesn't seem to have any problem with the notion.

"[Zimmerman] is going to be here for a long time, I'm pretty sure," Rendon said. "He's a great player. I'm not trying to come here and take anything away from him, because he's set in stone here. He deserves everything he's earned. I'm not trying to ruin that."

Rendon has played both second base and shortstop in the past, though he barely played any position last season at Rice due to a lingering shoulder injury that convinced several clubs to take a pass on him during the draft.

The Nationals never expected Rendon to fall to them at the No. 6 spot, but once he did they didn't waste any time scooping him up, figuring the position question could be answered sometime down the road.

Though he hasn't played in any actual games since the draft, Rendon has worked out extensively, both in Florida during the fall instructional league and over the winter at his home in Texas. The Nationals had him work with infield coordinator Jeff Garber on his throwing motion, and Rendon emerged with his arm feeling strong.

He arrived in camp insisting there are no questions in his mind about his ability to throw or hit.

"Oh, no. I've been doing that in the offseason," he said. "I know I'm capable of doing everything right now, because that's what I've been doing."

31 comments:

SCNatsFan said...

This guy has the chance to be a steal for us assuming his shoulder stays healthy. Think 3B hitting at 2B.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

OK, Kid. Show us what you got.

We're going to have to come up with something besides "Kid," though. Too many of them for that to work.

joemktg said...

Wouldn't be surprised to see Mark Harris work with Rendon on his footwork, etc. over at 2B (and SS). One of the better IF coaches in pro ball.

NatsNut said...

Mark,
I'm trying to figure out your little spring training logo in the middle of your posts. Are those donuts and an orange?

If so, LOL

VTmikey said...

@ NatsNut...it's a grapefruit and a grapefruit cut in halves, no? Alluding to the Grapefruit league in which your Nationals play in spring training.

Thanks for multiple posts a day, Mark! Really wish I could be in Viera right now, but this is a pretty decent compromise

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

NN, that's two halves of an orange, and one whole orange with leaves. I think you need a better monitor...
; )

Anonymous said...

This guy actually might make the 25 man roster very soon out of ST. Long shot, no doubt, but who knows. There have been some guys who went straight from top college player to the bigs without a stop in minor legaue ball. If he can really hit, and people think that he can, then Davey might just find a place for him to play. Rendon would be hard-pressed to be as much of a butcher as Desmond is at SS and he's a better hitter than Desmond is right now, and by a lot. Could be interesting.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

OK, grapefruits. Pink, not orange. NOW who needs a better monitor, wise guy?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

[Rendon] actually might make the 25 man roster very soon out of ST.

Just for fun, by "very soon" you mean 2014, right?

realdealnats said...

You never want to count your chickens before they hatch, but like C Cohen said yesterday (2/19 @ 6:12 pm) it was due to our very mistakes earlier on--ownership spending and GMing--that we were lucky enough to land Stras and Harper. I say add Rendon to that list b/c my intuition tells me he's the real deal as well. Sometimes where you stumble, that's where you find your treasure. I do hope we are lucky enough to steal a WS before it is expected of us, since we're in the dreaming business here. What greatness might Lefty gone on to accomplish if Moses won him a NCAA early on? Or this Caps team if they had stolen one a few years ago. It takes more than luck, but luck helps too--both in getting these three players for the Nats and in the stars lining up right to win it all.

N. Cognito said...

Stupid draft pick by Rizzo. This guy doesn't solve the gaping hole in centerfield.

Anonymous said...

I mean June. The club is searching for Desmond insurance all over the place (pure glove-guy add in Blanco, who can play SS well, and adding DeRosa and Teahen makes a potential Espi move to SS more doable), and now telling the hottest hitter from the college circuit that he's getting reps at SS might be a message to Ian. Bring your A game or you'll be playing someplace else other than DC this summer. And the Nats can't be scared senseless by Super 2 status for every one of their prospects. They gotta play to win. And if Zim goes down or Espi, Rendon might be up and playing every day. Rendon MIGHT be a difference maker sooner than anyone thinks.

Mark Zuckerman said...

FYI: That thing in the spring training logo is indeed supposed to be a grapefruit sliced in half. It was designed by one of the CSNwashington.com guys for that site, and I've been using it with all of my spring training articles.

natsfan1a said...

Will be interesting to see what this kid can do when healthy. He's saying all the right things, as is Zimm. Good work on the cliche front, kids.

My monitor could be better but, until it is, I use the "control/plus sign" key combo to blow things up, as it were. Can't tell whether it's oranges or grapefruits but if I had my druthers, I'd have a donut.

Just wonderin' said...

Anon @ 3:20 said... "Rendon would be hard-pressed to be as much of a butcher as Desmond is at SS and he's a better hitter than Desmond is right now, and by a lot."
==========================

This is not an attempt to play 'gotcha' or engage in one-upmanship, but I would really like to know what you're basing this statement on. Normally you see college shortstops converted to third basemen (as with Zimmerman) rather than the other way around. It's not so much about fielding per se, but about range and arm strength. From what I've read (and I've never seen Rendon play) he's a good third baseman, but is it realistic to project him as a full-time MLB shortstop?

Regarding his hitting, I know there are equations for projecting minor league stats to major league numbers, but I've never seen anything of that sort for projecting college players to the majors. Given that Rendon has never had a professional at-bat (that I'm aware of), what's the basis for your assertion. Just watching him play?

natsfan1a said...

Oops, I was typing while Mark was typing. fwiw, I like the logo. Well done, CSN design guy. :-)

Anonymous said...

Stupid draft pick by Rizzo. This guy doesn't solve the gaping hole in centerfield.

Again, Oh how did Milwaukee do so well ... I think they made the playoffs right? Played the Cardinals? Gee and the PLATOONED NYJER MORGAN in CENTERFIELD!? And the Cardinals traded Rasmus?

OH, c'mon people use your heads for something besides a hatrack. CF isn't really that big of a problem. They have 3 or four players who can handle it.

Its the offense. Expecting a CF to resolve is smoking some nasty opiates. But, in the future RENDON == OFFENSE == HIGH OBP.

Anonymous said...

I'm supposed to lay off the grapefruit when I'm taking my cholesterol medicine.

Anonymous said...

Regarding his hitting, I know there are equations for projecting minor league stats to major league numbers, but I've never seen anything of that sort for projecting college players to the majors. Given that Rendon has never had a professional at-bat (that I'm aware of), what's the basis for your assertion. Just watching him play?

The same projections used to determine Bryce Harper was a Sickel's grade A player. So, far it sure looks like those were close to dead on right? Stop.

whatsanattau said...

You know Zimmerman made his MLB debut the same year he was drafted. It really is not such a long shot to think that if Rendon is healthy, he could make it to the majors by year end. I'm not sure I believe in June, but September would be very possible.

realdealnats said...

I often agree to draft the position you need--especially in football or basketball--and I'd love a fast CF w/a great glove and the ability to get on base by any means necessary--but the sure bet of Rendon's bat on a 2 year fast track seems smarter than drafting another CF. We're already waiting on Goodwin, and a couple of other OFs coming up on the slower track. Who's the CF you would have drafted instead of Rendon for the infield?

Anonymous said...

Wonderin -- yes, just watching them play is the basis. I have no idea whether Rendon can play SS in the bigs, but the idea of the club trying him there in ST games makes me think it passes the laugh test. Rendon RAKED as a big time college player to the level of Nat'l Player of the Year as an underclassman, and his swing is a thing of beauty. So he very well may hit very well right away and he may be passable at SS if the opportunity presents itself for him to play there. I am not predicting Rendon becomes a SS or anything, just pointing out that the kid might be on the club in a full time role sooner than later.

N. Cognito said...

Rendon is going to get reps at 2B, 3B and SS primarily because the Nats don't yet know where he might end up.

Noah Webster said...

Mr.realdeal, allow me to explain.
Mr. Cognito was deploying facetiousness in his gaping hole commentary.
Apparently he did it quote well.
Congrats Mr. Cognito.

Anonymous said...

Good to see the Nats in a hurry to work Rendon into AB's with the first group this Spring. If they were slow-playing the kid's development, they would not be having him play SS at all. 2B sure, as he has a real shot at sticking there if Zim re-inks, but he's likely not a SS, so it may signal them wanting to see the kid playing with the A Nats team ASAP.

greg said...

sorry, i *never* agree that you draft for need with a 1st round pick. and *especially* not a top 10 pick. when you're that high, you take the best player. period. even if you have to move him to a different position eventually to get him on the club.

(a) anything can happen with a guy who might be blocking him when you draft him. few guys become starters in the majors w/in a year of when they were drafted. if they do, then you don't want to have picked someone else cuz that guy's *really* good.

(b) even if the guy blocking him stays a star and you don't have a position to move him to, he's still a top-quality trade chip.

(c) by the time the prospect makes it to the big leagues, you may have filled that "need" in some other way and now they're blocked by the new solution. again, few guys make it from draft day to the majors in less than 2 years.

taking lesser players to fill needs in the top round is a recipe for having a bottom 10 minor league system. you gotta draft the studs and worry about exactly how they'll fit into your major league roster when they prove they belong up there.

NatsJack on Florida said...

Mark.....re: the logo. Us "Born again Floridians" knew exactly what it was the second it was posted.

greg said...

and new posted again. mark is too prolific today...

N. Cognito said...

Noah Webster said...
"Mr.realdeal, allow me to explain.
Mr. Cognito was deploying facetiousness in his gaping hole commentary.
Apparently he did it quote well.
Congrats Mr. Cognito."

(Bowing gracefully) Thank you. I ran out of ad hominems.

realdealnats said...

Gotta admire a man who minds his hyphens when speaking latin to the father of American Scholarship and Education.

Tom in AR said...

Following Zimmerman's timeline (and they were drafted in close to the same spot, at similar ages, with similar college experience) Rendon would be starting this year. But Rendon signed late and didn't get any playing time his first year. Still, assuming he is as good as advertised and isn't slowed down too much by a position change, there is no reason he shouldn't be contributing by the end of this season.

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