When Anthony Rendon was first selected by the Nationals, there was a lot of excitement about his potential and how his quick hands and lightning reflexes in the batter's box would translate to the pro level. That excitement was tempered a bit when Rendon went down in April with a fractured ankle in a Single-A game at Lynchburg.
Despite that ankle injury, Rendon came on strong and showed consistency in the field, which sets up for an exciting full season ahead.
And the incredible potential still wins out with the third baseman out of Rice, ranked by Baseball America as the Nationals' No. 1 prospect.
Rendon finished Arizona Fall League competition with a flurry, batting .455 in the final 10 games (15-for-33), with five doubles, one triple and five RBIs. He walked eight times in those 10 games, with only five strikeouts, and stole three bases. His OBP was .548 and his OPS a very strong 1.214. He was named to the AFL Top Prospects Team.
Overall, his Arizona numbers jumped out at .338 in 22 games, with 11 extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and six stolen bases. After striking out 14 times in his first 12 games, he struck out just five times in his final 10 outings.
With the 43 games he played in four stops along the Nationals' chain, Rendon totaled 65 contests for his full season. Not too shabby, considering the fractured ankle sustained in his first week in Potomac.
"The one question with Rendon is, can he stay healthy?" said Baseball America national writer Aaron Fitt. "Certainly, had he been healthy in his junior year (at Rice), he would not have lasted six picks.
"Once again, it is the Nats being very opportunistic and aggressive in the draft. This player has special hands at the plate. He is not a big guy and hasn't hit for power, but he can hit for average, draw walks, and he has the chance to be a Gold Glove third baseman. He is a very talented player and has fantastic makeup."
But the concern has been those ankles that even Rendon admitted to me were more freak accidents than the sign of a chronic problem.
Fitt said if Rendon can continue to show that those injuries might be a fluke, he is destined for greatness.
"It is the third ankle injury he has suffered. I certainly hope he can stay healthy because he is such a fantastic kid, the sky is the limit for this guy. He can be an All-Star," Fitt said.