Rendon still has something to prove before reaching bigs

Today marks the beginning of the GM meetings out in Indian Wells, Calif., an event that runs through Friday.

These meetings aren’t nearly as significant as the annual Winter Meetings when it comes to free agent action or trade talk, but they serve as a nice starting point for a lot of offseason deals which are completed at a later date.

While Mike Rizzo is taking part in all that action out in California, Anthony Rendon is starting to heat up in nearby Arizona.

As pointed out by my colleague Byron Kerr, who has been closely monitoring all of the Nationals’ participants in the Arizona Fall League, Rendon went 3-for-3 with two doubles, four RBIs, a walk and a stolen base in yesterday’s 14-12 Salt River win over Scottsdale.

The Nationals’ 2011 first-round pick is now hitting .317 in 60 AFL at-bats, with no home runs, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases.

Rendon has multi-hit games in four of his last six contests and has added six extra-base hits in his last eight games played.

There was some talk late in the regular season that Rendon could be a possible September call-up to the Nationals, this despite the fact that he missed much of the season with an ankle injury and struggled in his time at Double-A Harrisburg upon his return to the field. One of the guys tossing Rendon’s name into discussions about call-ups was Davey Johnson himself.

That talk is a testament to Rendon’s raw talent and how highly he’s thought of throughout the organization. Position players in their first professional season with less than 50 games under their belts aren’t often in the mix for a late-season call-up to the majors, especially when they’ve played minimally above high Single-A and haven’t exactly hit the cover off the ball in the minors.

The Nationals see big things for Rendon in the future. He has a smooth swing and can really hit, and also has the ability to play multiple infield positions. Some have mentioned that Rendon could replace Ryan Zimmerman at third base in the coming seasons, with Zimmerman moving across the diamond and turning into a first baseman, where his injury history would be less of a concern and his throwing issues would be less of an issue.

rendon-fielding-red-sidebar.jpgBefore Rendon has the ability to show his stuff at the major league level, however, the 22-year-old has to prove that he can stay healthy. He’s suffered myriad injuries in recent years, which includes two ankle surgeries even before this season and a shoulder injury suffered before his junior season at Rice University. Add that all in with the fractured ankle he dealt with this year, and some might worry that Rendon is injury prone.

Judging by the numbers, Rendon is starting to turn things around out in Arizona. He’ll likely spend a good part of spring training with the big league club this upcoming spring, giving him a chance to further impress the Nationals’ brass.

But there’s no sense in making plans to have Zimmerman switch positions unless Rendon can stay on the field and produce. Zimmerman’s throwing issues are what they are, and he might be better at first base long-term to decrease his risk of injury. He’s still a Gold Glove third baseman, however, and won’t go anywhere until someone legitimately bumps him over to first base.

Let Rendon prove he can stay healthy and is worthy of a call-up before we start talking about him replacing Zimmerman at third. If he’s as good as everyone seems to think he is, he’ll earn a starting big league job soon enough.

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