Veteran third baseman Ryan Zimmerman landed on the disabled list with a bum hamstring on Saturday and in his place, the Washington Nationals have recalled their top prospect, infielder Anthony Rendon.
Rendon, recalled from Double-A Harrisburg, was the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft, coming out of Rice University. He impressed in his first year of pro ball in 2012, posting a .233/.363/.489 line across 160 plate appearances spread over four minor league stops.
Rendon’s mature approach to hitting as been on display early in 2013 as well, as he is leading the Eastern League in walks with 14 through 14 games for the Senators, a number that has helped him to a sparkling .462 OBP this season. With Zimmerman under contract through 2019, it looks as if Rendon’s path to the majors was blocked at the hot corner, where he spent all of 2012, so he has seen time at second base and even at shortstop for Harrisburg this season.
While Zimmerman is on the shelf, however, Rendon will return to his comfort zone at third base. Nats’ manager Davey Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he expects Zimmerman to miss the minimum of 15 days on the DL, but that Rendon will get his chance.
“I don’t like to bring a youngster up and have him sit,” Johnson said. “He’s been swinging the bat pretty good down there. It’s no slight against some guys I got here.”
It’s no guarantee that Rendon is in Washington for two weeks and two weeks only. Both Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo indicated to the Post that while it was likely he would return to the minors once Zimmerman was healthy, that has yet to be determined.
“I would think that when Zim comes back, we’ll probably send him down for more seasoning,” Rizzo said. “But we’ll take that as it comes. We see him as a long-term component of the team.”
If the Nats do find a place for Rendon going forward, it will most likely be as a second baseman. Incumbant Danny Espinosa has really struggled out of the gate and has yet regressed consistently following a stellar rookie campaign in 2011. Rendon, who missed most of last season with a fractured ankle, moves well and is showing he can handle playing at second. If he gets off to a good start at the plate over the next couple of weeks, it could be that Johnson and Rizzo allow him to learn on the job with the Nationals going forward.