Nationals Feel Fine After Picking Rendon
Slugger's Medical Report Not A Concern
WASHINGTON — To the Nationals, Anthony Rendon's
bat outweighed any concerns about his injuries, the position he plays or his signability.
Washington took the Rice third baseman with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Though his power numbers dipped in a junior year in which he was often limited to DH duty, Rendon is an accomplished hitter and fielder who was Baseball America's 2010 College Player of the Year.
The Nationals still were able to take a power arm with the 23rd choice in 6-foot-9 Kentucky righthander Alex Meyer
. With the 34th pick (the first one in the supplemental first round), they chose Miami-Dade JC center fielder Brian Goodwin
. Those two picks came to Washington as a result of Adam Dunn's
offseason signing with the White Sox.
Rendon, whose 21st birthday coincided with the opening night of the draft, was rated as this draft's best college position player in terms of pure hitting ability and strike-zone judgment. The righthanded hitter was ranked second in power for college hitters despite a drop from 26 to six home runs in a year with new standards for the metal bats.
"We were pleasantly surprised that he got to us at six," general manager Mike Rizzo
said. "Going into the draft season, he was projected to be the number one pick. (He was) the best college hitter in the game. Throughout the college season and the draft season, he held on to that status. As late as about 24 hours ago, he was supposedly going one or two in the draft."
Instead the first three players chosen were college pitchers, so eventually the Nationals selected the first college hitter. This year, Rendon hit .327/.520/.523 in 214 at-bats while drawing a Division I-best 80 walks for the Owls, the only one of the eight national seeds not to make the super regionals.
Rendon had two ankle surgeries after freak injuries while playing with Rice and Team USA. This year, he was hampered by a strained shoulder.
"I think my injuries only make me a stronger person," Rendon told MLB Network. He was not made available to local media on draft night.
"Our medical staff has cleared his health," Rizzo said. "We feel that if that was the reason he fell to six, we're satisfied with the work we've done on him and we're happy to have him."
Still, Rendon was able to play some second base in the college postseason. That versatility could come in handy because the Nationals have 2005 first-round pick Ryan Zimmerman
as their third baseman.
"Right now we feel that third base is his position," Rizzo said. "We've evaluated him as a Gold Glove-caliber defensive guy at third base. We're going to delay that decision until he gets to the big leagues and establishes himself here, and then we'll make those decisions down the road."
In his television interview, the 6-foot, 190-pound Rendon said he has played infield, outfield and even catcher and pitcher in high school. "Obviously I'm not the biggest guy in the world," he added. "I'm pretty small for a third baseman. I'm open to any ideas."
The Nationals are familiar with Rendon and with his advisers at Scott Boras
Corporation, which represented 2009 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg
and 2010 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper
as they signed last-hour deals with Washington. Also, Rendon was a 27th-round pick of the Braves in 2008 out of Lamar High in Houston. Roy Clark
, then the Atlanta scouting director, is now the vice president of player personnel for the Nationals.
After Rendon, the Nationals used their other first-round pick on Meyer, whose fastball was ranked only behind No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole's
among college arms. Meyer is coming off a 7-5, 2.94 junior season with 110 strikeouts and 46 walks in 101 innings. Scouting director Kris Kline
said that even if Meyer struggles to harness his stuff and remain a starter, he compares to Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard
Goodwin played a season at Miami-Dade after being suspended for violation of a university policy at North Carolina. The lefthanded hitter's patience at the plate, plus speed and plus defensive ability are among his strengths. The Nationals also like his power potential.
Like Rendon and Meyer, Goodwin is advised by Boras. Rizzo said that had no impact on the players the team selected.
Regarding the trio as a whole, Clark said, "We didn't think there was any way we could get two of them, much less three of them."
• The organization lost its second-round pick (66th overall) when it signed outfielder Jayson Werth
, a Boras client, in the offseason.
• Harper was in the same lineup as Zimmerman for less than an inning at low Class A Hagerstown. Harper was hit by a pitch that bruised his knee and forced him out of the game. On draft night the next night, the rehabbing Zimmerman was in high Class A for the first time in his career with Potomac. Harper, meanwhile, was back in the Suns' lineup and hit a homer.