Anthony Rendon is doing just what he wanted to do in Spring Training – get noticed. Of course, ranking 17th on Keith Law’s prospect list and 35th on Baseball Prospectus’ list, its safe to say he had already been noticed. But you get my point. He’s hit .400/.428/1.000, with 3 HRs and 3 doubles in 21 PAs after Wednesday’s game, which is, needless to say, a good start.
We know that spring stats are to be taken very lightly. And even if they were more valuable, the sample size is so small that his numbers seem much less impressive. It’s a great week, not much more. But because he is only 22, and because he has less than 200 pro PAs, this is still very encouraging to see. It’s clear he can hold his own against high end pro pitching, even if he isn’t facing aces all the time.
No matter how well he hits in the spring, though, there should be no question where he belongs to start the season. He has less than half a season of pro baseball under his belt, and there isn’t a hole in the lineup waiting for him. So he’d be resigned to the bench, which is probably the worst place for a hitter with his experience. He needs to hit every day if possible, because he still needs to learn every day. But that isn’t the end of the conversation with him.
It’s worth keeping an eye on him because these numbers aren’t a surprise. If he is comfortable in the minors and hits well enough, than he should be seriously considered to help if there is an injury to someone on the major league squad. He can certainly fill in at third base, and probably first base as well. It remains to be seen how he’d do in the middle infield, although the Nats plan on moving him around the diamond (he played SS on Wednesday).
This idea of giving him time at 2B and SS makes me a bit uncomfortable, because of his injury history. Three big ankle injuries already at such a young age make me think he might not be the guy you want in the middle infield. A guy who they thought initially sprained his ankle, again, but instead fractured it might not be the best guy to deal with a takeout slide.
But I’m digressing. My point about Rendon is that people believed he could hit in the majors immediately. When he was drafted, he was considered by many to be the most Major League ready prospect available. So it wouldn’t be crazy for him to be on the team right now. But they don’t NEED him right now, except in a part time role, and that would likely hinder his further development.
It makes the most sense, then, to send him down to the minors, and keep him there even if he rakes. But if there is an opening due to injury, rather than signing this year’s version of Adam Kennedy, the Nats should seriously consider giving Rendon a chance. And unless he has a very bad summer, he’s probably already penciled in for a September callup, which could give much needed rest to players that hopefully are gearing up for a deep playoff run. Rendon will start the season in the minors, but this spring may be a hint that he doesn’e need to be there more than a few more months.