The 2011 draft's top overall prospect made news Thursday and Friday, as Rice's Anthony Rendon played second base for two games at the Conference USA tournament in Pearl, Miss.
Rendon made eight plays at second without committing an error in his first game, then made a first-inning error on a ball to his right in Friday's game. It was his first game in the field since March 25 against Central Florida, as a shoulder injury, usually described as a strain by Rendon himself, has limited him to DH duty.
Rice, which lost its tournament opener, won both games with Rendon in the field. One scout in attendance, who commented on condition of anonymity, said Rendon wasn't challenged in the game with a double-play pivot and handled his routine chances just fine.
"We were thinking about either first base or second base," Rendon said after Thursday's game, a 9-8 win against Memphis, "but I grew up playing second base. I was always one of the smaller guys growing up, so I always played second base.
"It felt all right. I haven't played there since the summer after my junior year. It was very important to be out there. You know how frustrating it is to be a DH. It's not fun at all being a one-way player. It's great to be able to help my team on both sides of the ball."
Rice coach Wayne Graham added, “Anthony’s hands are very sure, and he’s not going to throw the ball away, and he doesn’t need a lot of arm from second base.”
Rendon is 3-for-6 in the two games and hit his sixth home run of the season Thursday. He also set Rice's new single-season walks record with 78.
The move to second base comes after ESPN.com major league writer Buster Olney reported that some major league executives consider second base Rendon's most likely future home. Baseball America's 2010 College Player of the Year earned that award in part for his tremendous defense at third, as he played the final 23 games of 2010 without making an error.
But the shoulder problem has kept Rendon off third virtually all season in 2011, and his size (6-foot, 190 pounds) puts him on the smaller side when compared to current big league third basemen. Evan Longoria (6-foot-2, 210), Chipper Jones (6-4, 210), Scott Rolen (6-4, 245), Ryan Zimmerman (6-3, 230) and Alex Rodriguez (6-3, 230) are examples of larger-bodied third basemen, with David Wright (6-0, 210) and Adrian Beltre (5-11, 220) representing some of the smaller established stars at the position.
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