AFL Update: Washington Nationals' Prospect Anthony Rendon's Big Night, Big Season Ahead In 2013

Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

The Washington Nationals' top pick in the 2011 Draft was widely-considered the top hitting infielder available before injuries caused his stock to drop after his junior year at Rice.

22-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon suffered a partial fracture of his ankle in his second professional game with the High-A Potomac Nationals. The third baseman returned to the P-Nats in August (after a rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Nats and NY/Penn League's Auburn Doubledays) and earned a promotion to Double-A Harrisburg after just nine games total with Potomac.

The former Rice infielder hit three doubles and three home runs in 21 games and 82 PAs with the Senators, finishing his first pro season in the Nationals' organization with a .233/.363/.489 line, eight doubles, four triples and six home runs in 43 games and 160 PAs. Rendon was sent to the Arizona Fall League to continue his first professional season and the hitter described by D.C. GM Mike Rizzo on the night the Nats drafted him as a, "... very polished, accomplished college hitter... and a consumate, professional hitter," is continuing to impress in the AFL against the top prospects from around the majors in what is a normally hitter-friendly league.

A 3 for 3, two double, four RBI night on Tuesday night in the Salt River Rafters' 14-12 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions left Rendon with a .317/.411/.467 line, seven doubles, a triple, 11 walks, 12 Ks and four stolen bases in 17 games and 60 AFL at bats. Over his last 10 games, the Richmond, Texas-born, 6'0'', 195 lb third baseman has a .382/.452/.569 line with five of his second doubles and his one triple coming in his last 34 at bats.

In a recent report on the Nats' prospects in Arizona, Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore quoted a NL scout,, "... who recently evaluated the Nationals’ contingent," praising Rendon's defensive work as well:

"Scout’s take: "He’s played pretty well defensively at third base. Hasn’t really had a great Fall League. He’s not really impacting the ball or driving it. But he hasn’t really struggled."

MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr spoke to Rendon in an interview last week before the infielder appeared in the AFL Rising Stars Game about working to change the perception that apparently exists that, "... he looks on the field like he isn't all the way into every pitch." The Nats' prospect told the MASN reporter in the article that he worked as hard on his defensive game as he does on his hitting and wanted to prove he was capable of playing a full season after dealing with injuries during his college career and early in his time with the Nats:

"After finishing up with Fall League, (I will) then come back to spring training stronger than ever and ready to prove to people I can play a full season."

On the night of the 2011 Draft, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters he thought Rendon possessed "Gold Glove caliber defensive skills at third base," to go along with the patience and power at the plate which resulted in the infielder posting a .371/.505/.679 line with 46 doubles and 52 HRs over 187 games in three seasons at Rice.

The Nationals signed the prospect widely-considered the best available hitter in the 2011 Draft class to a 4-year/$7.2M dollar major league deal, meaning he'll get some time, barring any setbacks or hiccups, in Spring Training with the major league club again after hitting in 3 of 13 ABs over eight games before he went to minor league camp last Spring.

Though not likely to challenge for a spot on the major league roster after just 21 games at Double-A and 43 games total in the minor leagues, Rendon returning to Harrisburg to start the 2013 campaign makes sense in terms of his development and a strong season from the top prospect in the Nats' system on MLB.com's year-end list and the 33rd prospect overall on their Top 100 list could have him in the mix in Washington in the not-too-distant future.

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