The Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects, #10: Anthony Rendon

Name: Anthony Rendon
DOB: 6/6/90
Organization: Nationals
Position: Third base

Why He’s This High: While the Nationals held the sixth pick in the 2011 draft, one could make a strong case that they picked the best player in the draft for the third straight year, with Rendon following Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Bryce Harper (2010). Of course, it’s far from guaranteed that any of those three players will have the best career out of the draftees in their year, but it’s not difficult to see any of them pulling off that feat.

For much of 2009 and 2010, Rendon was considered a near-lock to be picked first in 2011, and he was still the #1 college position player taken and the second position player overall. The reason why he slipped even that far can mainly be attributed to ankle problems that slowed him in his final year at Rice. There’s some debate on how well he’ll recover, but it’s widely held that he has an excellent chance to return to his previous dominant form.

Rendon is a very similar player to current Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who himself put up back-to-back 7+ WAR seasons from 2009-2010. He’s a tremendous defensive third baseman with an excellent approach at the plate who should have 20-30 HR power and perhaps more. There’s some thought that Rendon could slide over to second base as a pro (to accommodate Zimmerman) and have a plus glove at that position as well.

Why He’s This Low: After hitting .388/.468/.702 as a college freshman and a ridiculous .394/.539/.801 as a sophomore, Rendon slipped to “just” .327/.520/.523 as a junior; his incredible approach (33/80 K/BB in 63 games!) remained intact, but his power slipped. Many point to his ankle problems as the reason for the dropoff, and that makes sense. Since he was such a notable player, his “struggles” as a junior have been hyper-scrutinized, and in that context it’s difficult to tell if there’s any real reason for concern regarding his ankle issues going forward.

Obviously, Rendon has yet to play a professional game, so we have yet to see what he can do in that context. He’s not “far from the majors” like most draftees, but he still needs to prove his skills and production translate to professional baseball.

Conclusions: Rendon looks like a huge heist at sixth in the draft, and I have him ranked highest among 2011 draftees. After all, he was long thought of as the best player in the class, and all else equal, college position players probably carry the lowest attrition risk of any group. While the Nationals just mortgaged a lot of their future by trading for Gio Gonzalez, fans can remain happy that Rendon and Harper should form a devastating 3-4 punch in the middle of the lineup for many years.

Check out all of the Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects here!

For more on the Nationals, check out District on Deck!

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Topics: Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

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  • David M Law

    It seems odd that you would rank this guy so high based on his college numbers and no pro numbers. Also, I didn’t know he had any issue with his ankles; his SHOULDERS have been a problem since his junior year though, and that can affect his swing and throwing arm. Until this guy shows he’s healthy I don’t think he should be ranked this high but that’s OK because I disagree with many of your rankings and have read them all. Keep up the good work.

    • http://seedlingstostars.com/ thebaseballfish

      @David M Law You are correct that shoulder problems are a part of the mix but the ankles have been as well. He had 2 surgeries on his ankles prior to the 2011 college season but neither were expected to impact his long term future.

    • NathanielStoltz

      @David M Law Well, I’m not ranking him based on college NUMBERS. If you’ve been reading the rankings, as you say, you’re probably aware I take stats into account, but I’m not really big on looking at amateur numbers. My ranking here is simply based on the fact that Rendon was thought to be the best player in the 2011 draft class a year ago, and the only thing that’s held him back is the injuries. Being a position player, that’s less likely to be a long-term problem for him than it would be for a pitcher.

      So let’s say that he declined from “best player in the 2011 class” to “in the mix for best player in the 2011 class” this year; fair, yes? After all, I feel like the top six picks in the ’11 draft could’ve been picked in any order and nobody would’ve really argued. If the top six all have roughly equal upside (Hultzen’s is probably lowest, for what it’s worth), then you have to take floor into account to rank them. Being the only college position player of the bunch, Rendon would seem to have the highest floor. So he edges out Bauer and Cole by a couple of spots.

      I’m glad you’re reading in spite of your disagreements. And hey, even just a couple months after actually doing these rankings (I made the list in late Sept.), there’s already a bunch I would change myself. In the end, I hope people concentrate far more on the content of the writeups than the numerical rankings themselves; the content is factual while the ranking is extraordinarily subjective.

  • clemma

    I’m surprised to see that you have Jacob Turner in your top 10–I’m a Tigers fan and I don’t know if I would have ranked him in the top 15.

    • NathanielStoltz

      @clemma I’m honestly surprised at how much people seem to have soured with Turner over the offseason. I found what he did in 2011 remarkable given how young he was, and I see him as a potential #1 starter. More on him later this week–hopefully, the Tigers don’t mishandle him like they have with other prospects.

      • clemma

        @NathanielStoltz I’m not reading anywhere that anyone has soured on him, but maybe that is a local bias. Apparently, Beane insisted on him in any trade consideration for Gio Gonzalez. Turner had a very good minor league season and only made 3 starts with the big club, two of which were not good. Hardly a sample size to assess how good he is, particularly at age 20.

        • NathanielStoltz

          @clemma But that’s exactly my point. He was 20, so it’s ridiculous to knock him for a couple of bad starts in the majors. How many 20-year-olds excelled in the upper minors the way Turner did? Take Wil Myers, for example–he’s half a year older than Turner, and he merely held his own in Double-A this year, and yet most have him in the 10-20 range.

          Turner’s one of these players who may not “feel” like a top 10 prospect, but when you actually compare his track record and skillset with the other players out there, few players come out clearly ahead of him.

          But hey, you’ll see my writeup on him later this week–we’ll see what you think of it.

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