|Photo by USA Today|
With Nationals’ top prospect Anthony Rendon on his way up to the majors Sunday, the obvious question presents itself: How long will he stay?
Rendon is up due to the placement of Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore left hamstring. He could be sent right back to the minors when Zimmerman is re-activated, but if he does well that decision will not be easy.
The Nats are 10-7 at the moment, good enough for second in the N.L. East, but anyone who has watched the team closely could tell you they have been inconsistent. Hitting hasn’t necessarily been the issue, but Rendon’s call-up comes at a time the team could use a spark.
Last season Washington brought Bryce Harper in late April in a surprising move and he showed enough to stick around. Harper did have more than twice the minor league games under his belt as does Rendon with just 57, but was also three years younger. He quickly gave the Nats a reason to keep him and Rendon, it would seem, has the same opportunity.
The 22-year-old Rendon has been good at Double-A Harrisburg this season with a .462 OBP, two homers, and seven RBI. He also had a tremendous major league spring training with four homers and 11 RBI in 13 games. What if he comes up and rakes for two weeks?
Rendon projects as Zimmerman’s long-term replacement at third base, but when Zimmerman returns this year the job is his. Rendon could, however, showcase something to raise questions about the position of second base. Rendon was rotating positions at Harrisburg, playing two of his 16 games this year at second. The position isn’t a natural fit, but he does have experience there.
Second base is also the only spot on the Nats where questions persist on offense. Danny Espinosa is a terrific fielder, perhaps one of the best second baseman in all of baseball with the glove, but he is still finding his way at the plate. Through 12 games this year he is hitting .175 and now has a bruised right wrist to compensate for.
Espinosa has power, but strikes out way too often (189 in 2012) and can’t keep his average up. Rendon, on the other hand, has a reputation for patience at the plate. Double-A pitchers don’t have command quite like those in the majors, but Rendon has 14 walks with nine strikeouts through 14 games with the Senators.
The guy hasn’t even played a major league game yet, so there is no reason to get carried away and look too far into the future. Still, the way Rendon plays could determine whether that future will happen sooner than later.