"I think he's a terrifically polished college player," Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo said after selecting Anthony Rendon with the sixth overall pick of the 2011 Draft. "I think he will be a quick-to-the-big-leagues guy as far as the normal course of a drafted player, but again, we're not going to put any stipulations on him, any timetables or anything like that, but suffice it to say, we feel really good about this player and it's a guy that we've thought about a lot, it's a guy that we've had at or near the top of our board for a long, long time, and we feel good about selecting him."
Rendon suffered an ankle injury early in his first pro season, but ended the year at Double-A Harrisburg after just nine games total at Class A Advanced Potomac. As Nats' Director of Player Development Doug Harris explained after the 2012 season in an MLB Network Radio interview, the move was designed to challenge the 22-year-old infielder who finished his final season at Rice University with a .327/.520/.523 line and an NCAA-best 80 walks over 63 games and had a combined .371/.505/.679 line over 187 games in three seasons with the Owls in which he walked (176 BB) more than he struck out (78 Ks).
"I think early on we challenged him with some steps that were aggressive," Harris told the MLB Network Radio hosts, "but gave him a taste of what he was going to be seeing in the Fall League." In the Arizona Fall League, the so-called "finishing school" for the game's top prospects, Rendon put up a .338/.436/.494 line with 10 doubles, a triple, 15 walks and 14 Ks in 77 at bats over 22 games. "Once he piled on some at bats in the Fall League," Harris said, "he really settled in and we began to see the type of player he has a chance to be."
Rendon impressed in his second Spring Training with the Nationals and worked at several positions around the infield, notably taking instructions from former major league second baseman and current Nats' skipper Davey Johnson. Upon returning to Double-A Harrisburg to start the season, however, he played predominantly at third, though he did get in five games total at second base. When he was called up to the majors briefly with Ryan Zimmerman on the DL with a hamstring injury (4/21-5/2), Rendon stayed at third.
The speculation since he was drafted has been that he might eventually move to second base since Zimmerman's firmly entrenched at third and Ian Desmond's emerged as a legitimate major league shortstop. That chatter has only grown louder this season as the Nationals have struggled to get production at second base from either Danny Espinosa or utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi. The combined .196/.220/.294 line the Nationals have from the two infielders has them ranked 26th in AVG, 30th of 30 in OBP and 25th overall in SLG from their second baseman.
So it's not too surprising that the rumors that started last night about Rendon being promoted from Double-A Harrisburg, where he had a .319/.461/.603 line, 11 doubles, two triples and six home runs after 33 games and 152 plate appearances, were accompanied by reports that he'll play second base with Washington's top affiliate, the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs:
Source confirms #Nationals’ promotion of Rendon to Triple A, says plan is to play him mostly at second base.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 1, 2013
The Harrisburg Senators this afternoon confirmed the rumors of Rendon's promotion, which were originally published by Patriot-News' reporters and Senators beat reporters Dave Sottile and Geoff Morrow, though there's no word from the Nationals confirming Mr. Rosenthal's source's assertion that he'll play second base:
Official: Anthony Rendon promoted to Syracuse, LHP Matt Grace promoted to #HbgSens from Potomac.— Harrisburg Senators (@HbgSenators) June 1, 2013