Second baseman Tony Renda has moved his way up from short-season Single-A Auburn to Single-A Hagerstown and is the leadoff hitter for the Suns.
The second-round 2012 selection (80th overall) says manager Gary Cathcart was instrumental in his improvement and experience for the Doubledays.
“Auburn was a great experience for me,” Renda said. “I got to play for a great manager in Gary Cathcart. I got to learn how to become a professional, how to go about your business in a professional way.
“Coming out of college, you play four days a week and in pro ball, it is every day. I was fortunate enough to get four or five at-bats every day. I had to overcome adversity and keep pushing forward.”
The 2011 Pac-12 Player of the Year for Cal hit .264 in 71 games for Auburn, with 78 hits, 15 stolen bases and 31 walks. His on-base percentage was .341.
“He is somebody to be excited about,” Hagerstown manager Tripp Keister said. “Stephen Perez and Renda will get the bulk of the work in the middle. These guys work out at every infield position, they will be ready.”
The 22-year-old, who has experience playing in the College World Series, impressed the Nationals coaching staff so much that he got the chance to work in instructional camp last October and accelerated development camp this spring training.
“Just to be around a lot of the guys I have never met before and doing work with them (was critical),” Renda said. “I was fortunate enough to go to accelerated camp. It was a small group and we got to work with all the coordinators. It went by like that. It was an awesome camp.”
Renda is realistic about all the good players around him and is proud that he gets to play baseball in the Nationals system.
“There are great players all the way through the organization,” Renda said. “You can’t get discouraged when you see Anthony Rendon playing second base or something like that. They told us this at camp, ‘You are not just playing for one team, you are playing for 30 teams. There are 750 major league baseball players. You are playing for a spot.’ When you get to this level, you are fair game, you can play for anybody.
“I just put on a Nationals uniform every day and I am damn proud to do it. I am happy to be a part of it.”
Update: Renda went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first game Thursday, a 4-3 loss at Delmarva.