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When will Rendon make the majors?

Dec 23, 2012, 6:00 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Images

At 22 years old and the best prospect in the Nationals’ organization, it should not be long until Anthony Rendon makes the major leagues. If he wasn’t part of a franchise that finished 2012 with a league-best 98 wins, he may have been called up last September. Right now, however, the Nats’ starting lineup is all but set for 2013 and there isn’t a clear path to the big leagues for the young infielder.

But what happens if the Nationals have to deal with a major injury next season? Given the team’s recent history, it could certainly happen. Rendon can play third base and could be a second baseman long-term, he has some versatility. If the Nationals suffer an injury at second base, shortstop, or third base, Rendon could be the next man up to take a roster spot.

Bryce Harper reached the majors in late April of 2012 based on a pressing need out of injury. Michael Morse was out with a lat strain and Ryan Zimmerman had just been sent to the disabled list. They needed a spark and Harper provided it, even if it was early than any had anticipated. It was a move Mike Rizzo felt he had to make and who is to say he wouldn't try it again.

The Nationals could be presented a similar situation this season and Rendon is their most MLB-ready top prospect. He has only appeared in 43 minor league games because of injury, but shined in the Arizona Fall League and is regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the minors. A .338 average and .930 OPS in the AFL was convincing proof.
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  1. Chevy Chase Bob - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    I would say early June, as the result of an injury to one of the infield starters.

  2. Candide - Dec 23, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    So they'd bring Rendon up to play 2nd or SS, instead of plugging the gap with Lombo?

  3. sjm308 - Dec 23, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    I can't see that either Candide. If they all of a sudden start to move Rendon around the infield in Syracuse (or where ever he starts the year), then maybe they make that move but I am sticking with the idea that Espinosa is a special player and he will get a long long leash.I still remember what a great job both Espi and Lombo did during Desmond's injury and I guess that would be a reason to bring Rendon up. I am thinking he will not join the team until later than Harper but again, its all about staying healthy.Go Nats!!

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 23, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Rendon has to prove he can play 90 days without going on a DL. He also has to prove he can hit AAA pitching. Wil Meyer has proven more than Rendon and he'll start at AAA.

  5. Steady Eddie - Dec 23, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    If Rendon came up early to fill an injury hole, I don't know that it would necessarily be to start, but might be to fill the bench spot opened by Lombo becoming a starter (assuming at least a 15 day DL stint for someone).Remember that TMoore didn't get many starts during his first call-up last season, and he had had a lot more MiLB seasoning than Rendon has.

  6. Chevy Chase Bob - Dec 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    I did not mean to suggest Rendon would start…just that he would be called up to back up Lombo..

  7. Unknown - Dec 23, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Granted, Rendon hasn't proven the can hit AAA pitching, but remember, Harper hadn't either.In 21 games with Syracuse, Harper hit .243-1-3 after batting .256-3-12 in 37 games with AA Harrisburg. Thats .248-4-15 in 231 at-bats at Double and Triple-A. I don't think Harper had proven a thing before coming up in April and becoming the NL Rookie of the Year. So who knows? I sure don't.Farid @ Idaho

  8. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 23, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Harper came up to fill a need in the starting lineup and had played over 150 minor league games with out serious injury. And he showed that he could handle ML pitching in ST.Rendon has done none of that. And he certainly won't be called up to sit on the bench.

  9. peric - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    So they'd bring Rendon up to play 2nd or SS, instead of plugging the gap with Lombo?Harper came up to fill a need in the starting lineup and had played over 150 minor league games with out serious injury. And he showed that he could handle ML pitching in ST.BUT, Rendon is starting out with a more mature, polished approach to hitting developed while still at Rice than did Harper. In fact Rendon's approach to hitting may yet prove to be superior to Harper's even after the ROY. And of the two, Rendon IS THE SUPERIOR fielder without any doubt.Bottom line if Rendon demonstrates that major league pitching is what he will likely need to take the next step then that will have to be a serious consideration.Finally as far as injuries. Both Nats top third baggers have had three years of serious injury problems. But one is significantly older than the other. Right Natsjack? Like it or not the injuries Ryan Zimmerman has suffered tend to age a player prematurely. In the end it boils down to who plays the best at third and lasts the longest without injury: Zimmerman or Rendon. The smart money would be on Rendon.

  10. JaneB - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    It sure seems like it would take an injury to a Regular Guy for him to earn the call up. So my personal hope is VERY late September to play in Spring 2014…no one gets hurt and needs replacing and we are so solid in first place in September that they can give him a glimpse, but not need him. Nothing personal, Anthony.

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    I'm thinking after Super 2

  12. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    I get a kick out of people that think because a kid hits great in college that he's polished.I've seen Rendon and appreciate his hands being able to stay inside pitches thrown in on him. I also like his ability to adjust to pitches thrown away.But I've seen hundreds of guys just like him that get eaten up by the everday grind. Comparing him to people that have performed over a full ML schedule when he's stll looking to play a full schedule of minor league (140) games and declaring his prficiency is silly.

  13. realdealnats - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Apropos of nothing above, here's a quote I just read by Michael Chabon one of my favorite authors these days:"The fundamental truth: a baseball game is nothing but a great slow contraption for getting you to pay attention to the cadence of a summer day.”Of course he doesn't take into account strategy and stats but still, I thought it was pretty cool.

  14. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Love it, realdeal. Thanks.

  15. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    so redskins are in with that win, right?

  16. Feel Wood - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    My prediction is that Rendon will make the majors sometime before Adam LaRoche plays his next game as a Nat.

  17. sjm308 - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Faraz, apparently not

  18. Faraz Shaikh - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    if chicago had lost, they would have i believe.

  19. BigCat - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    Here here NatsJack.The Rendon I saw in the late summer at Potomac had the body language of a pretty boy who was too good to be there. Also, he looked much smaller than advertised. Another thing that bothered me about him is that reports were that he tried to take the whole summer off after spraining his ankle in the 2nd game at Potomac. Lets not compare this guy to Harper. Harper BURNS for baseball. Lets just wait and see.

  20. Gonat - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    @Chase, I liked your article but it would be much better if you got some quotes from Rendon and one of his coaches.

  21. BigCat - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    I would like to hear about his work ethic……or lack of

  22. baseballswami - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Way too early to know very much about Rendon. Pretty sad about that former player that killed himself. Seems like he had repeated concussions. Related?

  23. peric - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    It'll be interesting to watch Natsjack, yet again eat his words when it comes to Rendon … kind of like Morse again.And I'll be here to add lots of garlic sauce to them.

  24. BigCat - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:46 AM

    That polished approach at Rice was with the "old" metal bat. Rendon hasn't done doodily squat since going to the wood bat….power wise.

  25. fast eddie - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Big Cat:Thanks for your insights on Rendon. I saw him in Viera last spring but not enough to form an opinion.I only hope he doesn't read the NI postings. If so, he'll think he's a shoo -in for ROY next year.I'm as psyched as the rest of you, but after only 43 minor league games, doesn't he need at least one injury-free year in Syracuse?What am I missing?

  26. Joe Seamhead - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    My bad on the last thread for thanking Mark. I missed the byline. Thanks Chase, and I didn't mean to slight you.

  27. NatsLady - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    I've never seen Rendon play. But I'm not ready to trash him because (a) he's short or (b) he needed time to recover from an injury. Also, I have been to games in Potomac, and I wouldn't want to play there! Nice people, but, terrible field and conditions.

  28. SonnyG10 - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    BigCat said…Another thing that bothered me about him is that reports were that he tried to take the whole summer off after spraining his ankle in the 2nd game at Potomac. Lets not compare this guy to Harper. Harper BURNS for baseball. Lets just wait and see.December 23, 2012 7:53 PMGood point, BigCat. I would be interested in knowing this also.

  29. alan merritts - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    I think if Adam LaRoach does not sign with the Nats, Rendon may come up as soon as he is hitting consistently well.

  30. Laddie Blah Blah - Dec 24, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Rendon has skills you cannot teach. He has exceptional hand-eye coordination and reflexes that are off the charts, even compared to other ML ball players, which allows him to reload his swing, even when fooled, to hit the slow breaker. Fast balls are no problem for a guy with his quickness and hands. He does not have to be big to hit with power, because of the way he generates bat speed with his wrists and hands, just like Hank Aaron did. Aaron was even smaller than Rendon, and he did pretty well with a swing that is almost identical to Rendon's.Rendon is exceptional. He plays with an easy confidence, just as La Roche does. Pirate fans still boo La Roche because they mistake his relaxed confidence with indifference, just as some here mistake the ease with which Rendon plays with laziness, or something. The best make it look easy.How do you think he came to be regarded as the best glove in the entire organization? It's because his reflexes and hands are so fast and sure, that's how. Yes, he will have to prove he can hit ML pitching, but he will.I can't wait for him to make the bigs. The Nats are fast-tracking him, even faster than they did Harper. It's the injuries that have slowed him down, so far. The guy missed almost an entire year, and still came back to impress in the AFL after only a few dozen games in the low minors.Willie Mays missed an entire year when he first came up due to injury, and he proved to be an endurable athlete over a long career. If he stays healthy, Rendon is going to be a star. He is a baseball natural, born to play the game.Appreciate the guy. You do not see his like very often. I cannot believe how lucky the Nats were to get Strasburg, Harper, Rendon and Giolito in consecutive drafts. Each of them has more raw talent than almost anyone else who has ever suited up for the Nats.

  31. sjm308 - Dec 24, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Thanks for that Laddie: I really did not know that much about him but everything I read is positive. Only negatives come from people here who tend toward the eeyore approach.Seems the key is Rendon getting a season of injury free baseball to impress everyone.Peric: NJ is a big boy and can take care of himself but he has never knocked Rendon, merely pointed out he has had injuries and not played many games. All of that is what has transpired so far. Sauce away but we are all pulling for Rendon to make an impact. Some just think it will be later than sooner.

  32. Mike J - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:11 AM

    All that we really have to go on with Rendon is potential and fragility. If I'm Rizzo, I want to make sure he can play a full season of baseball before I start counting on him to contribute to a team in the hunt for a championship. In a perfect world, the Nationals stay healthy and productive and Rendon plays 140 or so games at Syracuse.

  33. Unknown - Dec 24, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    Just a reminder. In his first two seasons at Rice–against superior competition–Rendon had 468 at-bats, just a tad less than a full major league season. How'd he do?.391/.505/.757, 46 HR, 157 RBI, 23 SBIn those two seasons, Rendon finished first in the conference in RBI, total bases, walks and home runs along with the top walk to strikeout ratio. He finished second in slugging. He did this on a 5'11", 175 lb frame. He'll probably end up a tad over six feet and close to 190 pounds. I mentioned this before, but I think he'll end up as a Billy Madlock clone but with more power. In his prime, from '74-'83, Madlock averaged .316/.377/.457 with 15 HR and 80 RBI along with 20 stolen bases. Add 10 home runs to those totals and I think you've got Anthony Rendon.And Madlock was drafted by the Senators, which doesn't matter in the least but is way cool nonetheless. Farid @ Idaho

  34. Unknown - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    A quick check of Ryan Zimmerman's first two seasons at the University of Virginia looked a little different. Here are the two side-by-side. Rendon had 468 at-bats and Zimmerman 470:Rendon: .391/.505/.757, 46 HR 157 RBIZimmerman: .325/.365/.410, 1 HR, 91 RBIThis is not a attempt to besmirch Zimmerman's college career in the least. Rather, if All Star Zimmerman's career was launched with those UVa numbers, one wonders what Rendon might be able to do based on his college numbers.Farid @ Idaho

  35. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Farid….great numbers by Rendon but as BigCat points out, those were with a metal bat.

  36. UnkyD - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    NatsJack: was Zim a wooden bat guy, in college?

  37. sjm308 - Dec 24, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    No one in the NCAA uses wood – but they have reduced the amount of force that the metal bats produce to protect the pitcher a little more. It's still a big adjustment for hitters coming out of college.

  38. UnkyD - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Just saying, it's apples vs apples, comparing the college numbers..

  39. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    No but he has a ML track record. Does Rendon?

  40. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Before the change, the old model metal bat made EVERYBODY a power hitter.

  41. NatsLady - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Napoli was offered 3/39. He can catch (a little), he's two years younger than LaRoche, but has, apparently, more injury issues than the Red Sox are comfortable with.If Napoli's deal falls through, then the Red Sox could offer LaRoche something like 3/33. That is $8M more than Rizzo (reportedly) offered. I think if Texas were going to make an offer of three years they already would have made it. The Red Sox have their first-round pick protected, so they would have to give up a second-round pick. If the doctors, agents and lawyers are working hard through the holiday break then we could hear news soon. Otherwise, we wait, Rizzo waits, LaRoche waits…

  42. UnkyD - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    NJ…. Of course not. But the comparison was between their college numbers, to show that ARs potential is in Zim's ballpark, right?

  43. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 24, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Right…but Zim had a healthy collegiate career. When healthy, Rendon compares well. When not and without the juiced bat, not so much.Again, just like Goodwin, I like the kids potential. He just has a ways to go.

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