That Anthony Rendon should fall to the Nationals with the sixth overall pick yesterday was likely a result of collective fear by the teams with the top five picks.
A year ago, Rendon was being mentioned in the same breath as Bryce Harper - along the lines of, if Rendon were available last year, it was a pick 'em in many scouts' minds which one would go first overall. This year, based largely upon fear that his shoulder injury would slow down, or perhaps even curtail, his rise to the big leagues, the teams with the top five picks looked elsewhere.
At 21 - his birthday was yesterday - many scouts feel that Rendon's bat would play in the majors today. But where would he play? His primary position, third base, is occupied by the soon-to-return Ryan Zimmerman, the face of the franchise and a superior defender to Rendon. And, due to some shoulder and ankle miseries, Rendon DHed a great deal at Rice this past year, a position not available in the National League.
Rendon's stature - 6-foot, 190-lbs., according to the Rice University Sports Information Department - makes him a candidate for a number of positions. Praised for his athleticism, he could likely play anywhere in the infield or the outfield. It will be up to the Nationals' player development department to figure that out, but let's keep in mind they drafted a catcher as an outfielder only last year.
It's not out of the question that Rendon gets a look-see at Nats Park in September, provided that he signs a contract fairly quickly that gives him a spot on the 40-man roster. Ryan Zimmerman spent only 67 games in the minor leagues after he was drafted in 2005, and hit an astounding .397 when he was called up to the big club that September. It's all about getting the process started as quickly as possible. but we know that Rendon's representative, Scott Boras, tends to like to string things out for awhile.
General manager Mike Rizzo and staff may have picked another plum this year, though, obviously, Rendon actually has to perform. Still, I can't help but believe the Nats are secretly pleased that their top three picks - right-hander Alex Meyer (23rd overall) and outfielder Brian Goodwin (34th overall) - are all college players, and therefore a little (or a lot) more polished at this stage of their respective games.
That usually means a quicker trip to the big leagues.