VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals made their second round of spring training cuts this morning, sending top prospect Anthony Rendon and six others to minor-league camp.
Rendon was optioned to Class AA Harrisburg, where he'll open the season. Right-hander Nathan Karns, the organization's pitcher of the year in 2012, also was optioned to Harrisburg, along with catcher Sandy Leon. Outfielder Eury Perez (currently playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic) was optioned to Class AAA Syracuse. Infielders Matt Skole and Will Rhymes and left-hander Patrick McCoy, meanwhile, were re-assigned to minor-league camp.
Though he excelled in big-league camp, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a team-high four homers and 11 RBI, Rendon knew all along he would open the season in the minors after missing most of last year with an ankle injury. He'll return to Harrisburg, where he closed out 2012, but could get promoted to Class AAA Syracuse in short order and could reach Washington sometime this season.
"He just needs to go and play," manager Davey Johnson said.
Rendon was diplomatic when asked about his chances of debuting in the majors this year -- "If I happen to get up here, I get up here. If not, nothing you can do." -- but was happy about the month he just spent in big-league camp.
"It was just a good experience, just being around the guys and seeing how everything is day-in and day-out," the infielder said. "It helps prepare you for when you get back up here."
Johnson said Rendon will primarily play third base and shortstop at Harrisburg while also seeing some time at second base as the Nationals try to get him comfortable around the infield given the fact they already have Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa on the big-league roster.
Rendon will be joined at Class AA by Skole and Karns, the organization's reigning player and pitcher of the year, each of whom made a strong impression this spring.
Skole, a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, hit .250 (6-for-24) with two doubles, five RBI and seven walks in his first big-league camp. The 23-year-old will split time between third and first bases this season, Johnson said.
Karns, a 12th-round pick in 2009, appeared in three Grapefruit League games out of the bullpen, allowing one run in 3 2/3 innings, and showing off a mid-90s fastball two years removed from shoulder surgery.
"He was impressive even before he threw off a mound," Johnson said.
Karns did deal with a minor leg injury over the last week but has been cleared to resume throwing and is confident it's nothing serious. The 25-year-old was glad he got a chance to make an impression on the coaching staff during his time in camp.
"I got a lot out of here," he said. "I may not have gotten to participate physically, but a lot of guys talked to me about the mental aspect and things to look forward to. ... Anytime you get to show just more than a stat line, get to know me as a person or see me play, I think that'll help out in any regard."
Today's cuts leave the Nationals with 42 players in big-league camp.