Washington Nationals Select Best Hitter In Draft Two Years In A Row, Now Have To Sign Anthony Rendon.

On their final 2011 MLB Mock Drafts, Baseball America's Jim CallisMLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and ESPN.com's Keith Law all predicted that Rice 3B Anthony Rendon would go to the Seattle Mariners, owners of the second overall pick. On the day of the draft, four pitchers and one high school hitter had their names called before Rendon went sixth overall to the Washington Nationals.

The 6'0'', 180lb Houston, Texas-born infielder hit .371 with 46 doubles, 52 home runs, 194 RBI's, 176 BB and 201 runs scored in 187 games played in three years at Rice, but he struggled with an ankle injury (in 2010) and a shoulder injury in his draft year which limited him to just two doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI's in 63 games and 214 at bats in a 2011 season in which he did, however, put up a .327/.520/.523 slash.

As Rendon's bio at Rice notes, he led the NCAA with 80 walks in 2011, the highest total compiled by a collegiate batter since 1998, and he hit, ".374 with runners on base, .311 with runners in scoring position and .429 with the bases loaded," but with the shoulder issues keeping him off of the field for the most part, Rendon, "Started four of the first five games of the year at third base and moved to DH for all but two games the rest of the season."

The decision to keep hitting for the Owls even though he couldn't play the field was an easy one for Rendon, who told reporters after the Nationals selected him he could have taken care of the injury if he'd just taken time off,  "But you know, it didn't bother me when I was swinging," Rendon said, so he stayed in the lineup as the DH.

"I needed to take time off, I needed to not do anything," Rendon said, "and I didn't want to do that. I knew if I rested, if I took off maybe ten games or this or that, and I didn't play at all, you know, who knows what will happen? Maybe we wouldn't have even been in the post season. I didn't want to do that to my team, I wanted to be out there everywhere I could."

"We were pleasantly surprised that he got to us at six," D.C. GM Mike Rizzo said after the consensus top hitter in the draft went to Washington for the second-straight year. "Going into the draft season," the Nats' GM said, "he was projected to be the no.1 pick, the best college hitter in the game, and throughout the college season and the draft season he held onto that status." 

Washington's Assistant GM and Vice President of Player Personnel Roy Clark, who'd drafted Rendon in his role as the Atlanta Braves' scouting director, though Atlanta obviously didn't sign him, said, "The only thing that stopped him was the shoulder and the ankle, and we feel comfortable that he's going to get a little time off. He didn't want to take time off this year, because he owed it to his teammates at Rice, he felt like, and he knew he was going to have to take some time off to get healthy, but he says he feels good and we're looking forward to having a healthy Anthony Rendon in the organization."

Rendon, a Scott Boras client, as are the Nats' other two unsigned top picks RHP Alex Meyer and OF Brian Goodwin, is expected to sign, or at least have his signing announced just before Monday night's 11:59:59 deadline, with Baseball America's Jim Callis predicting a major league deal worth around $7 million dollars in a recent interview with MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr. "I think he's a terrificly polished college player," Mike Rizzo told reporters after the draft. "He's very, very balanced, has great raw power along with a line drive stroke and we feel that he's a very efficient hitter and capable of hitting for a high average and for power."

Though he was once expected to go no.1 overall and said he felt relief when he was finally selected by the Nats. "When my name was called," Rendon said, "It was a relief. I was happy about being selected. Thousands of kids probably wish they were in my shoes right now, I'm just glad to be blessed enough to be given this opportunity."

Tomorrow night his professional career, barring any unforseen issues, will officially begin. 

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