Rendon poised for first spring training with Nationals

Anthony Rendon made national headlines during his career as a power-hitting third baseman at Rice University. Rendon was expected by many to be the No. 1 overall selection in June’s draft, yet his stock dropped because of injury concerns.

The Nationals grabbed Rendon with the sixth pick and felt they got a steal. Many baseball authorities agreed.

Baseball America Jim Callis called the the haul of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Rendon as the best three-year run he had ever seen.

Nationals infield coordinator Jeff Garber got an extensive look at Rendon and a chance to work with the team’s top selection during instructional league camp in October. Now the former national Player of the Year prepares for spring training with his new team and, from all indications, Rendon should hit the ground running.

“He is very quick and agile out on the field,” Garber said. “Rendon is very athletic. But again, he has had so much time off. We were just going over basic fundamentals, getting his feet and hands working. He is an offensive guy who has a lot of defensive potential. His hands work great. He has great range. He just needs polished skills. Rendon has had so much down time that we are going to be teaching him basic stuff over there until he gets back to feeling comfortable.”

The focus will be on Rendon’s defense, footwork and glovework in camp. It will also be exciting to see his bat in live pitching for the first time against higher-profile pitchers during spring workouts.

But one thing is for certain: Rendon has amazed with his hitting ability, especially his hand strength and quickness.

Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said Rendon has some impressive tools.

“He has got a balanced approach with strong hitter’s hands and good bat-to-ball instincts,” Harris said. “(Rendon) is doing well. The goal is to prepare him, in all phases, for the regular season.”

Although this has not been confirmed, it seems likely with Rendon so advanced, he would start at high Single-A Potomac in 2012, and with Rick Hague recovering from shoulder injury, would make an all-Rice left side of the infield in Woodbridge, Va.

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