The Washington Nationals' 23-year-old third baseman, Anthony Rendon, was impressive at the plate this afternoon, going 4 for 5 with a solo home run in the first, three singles and three runs scored in the Nats' 10-2 win over the Texas Rangers.
But it was Rendon's Web Gem-worthy backhand stab and throw in the top of the second that reporters and Nationals' skipper Matt Williams were still talking about after the game.
Rangers' slugger Adrian Beltre tore into a 1-1 fastball from Doug Fister and sent a sharp grounder screaming toward third, but Rendon backhanded it as he slid across the third base line, then popped up to fire an off-balance throw across the diamond in plenty of time to beat Beltre to first.
"It's hard," Williams said. "Because all of his momentum is taking him to the outfield. He's got great arm strength, so that helps. It was right on the money. I think the more he plays over there, the more comfortable he gets, the more accurate his throws become. So all of that helps. But that's a great play."
• WATCH: Anthony Rendon robs Adrian Beltre:
The degree of difficulty impressed Williams, a four-time Gold Glove winner during his playing days, who knows a little something about playing the so-called "hot corner" in the majors.
"That's probably the most difficult one over there," Williams said. "It's the high chopper that you can't come get that you have to give on and he goes down to his knees to stop himself and turn and throw, it's difficult. Because there's no momentum involved. But his arm strength can more than make up for that."
Rendon is settling in at third base after taking over there when Ryan Zimmerman went down with a fractured thumb in early April. Rendon was, of course, drafted as a third baseman out of Rice, with Nats' GM Mike Rizzo saying at the time that the Nationals viewed him as a Gold Glove-caliber defender at third, but the opening was at second when they called Rendon up to stay last season, and he started the year there before the injury to the incumbent third baseman.
The way he's adjusted to the position changes early in his professional career has impressed his manager as well.
"He can be good," Williams explained. "He's still learning. He's still becoming accustomed to the position. You have to understand where Anthony has been, right? In college he didn't play a lot defensively because he had a [shoulder] issue. Then he had an ankle injury, and then he comes to the big leagues and he plays second base. So he hasn't been over there a lot. Everybody says that's kind of his natural position, but nonetheless, he hasn't been there. So he's still learning it. But he's making great strides."
Rendon fell to the Nationals with the sixth overall pick in 2011 in part because he was limited to DH duties by the shoulder injury in his final season at Rice, but he still managed to put up a .327/.520/.523 line with 20 doubles and six home runs over 63 games in his third year with the Owls.
He was just two games into his pro career when he suffered his third serious ankle injury in three years, however, costing him significant time at a critical point in his development.
Rendon returned to the field late in the 2012 season, and made his debut early last season before coming up for good in June.
After struggling at the plate throughout most of the last month, he's started to turn it around at the plate again.
With four hits this afternoon, the second-year major leaguer has a .268/.323/.441 line with 11 doubles, four triples and six home runs in 53 games and 236 plate appearances.