At 22 years old and the best prospect in the Nationals’ organization, it should not be long until Anthony Rendon makes the major leagues. If he wasn’t part of a franchise that finished 2012 with a league-best 98 wins, he may have been called up last September. Right now, however, the Nats’ starting lineup is all but set for 2013 and there isn’t a clear path to the big leagues for the young infielder.
But what happens if the Nationals have to deal with a major injury next season? Given the team’s recent history, it could certainly happen. Rendon can play third base and could be a second baseman long-term, he has some versatility. If the Nationals suffer an injury at second base, shortstop, or third base, Rendon could be the next man up to take a roster spot.
Bryce Harper reached the majors in late April of 2012 based on a pressing need out of injury. Michael Morse was out with a lat strain and Ryan Zimmerman had just been sent to the disabled list. They needed a spark and Harper provided it, even if it was early than any had anticipated. It was a move Mike Rizzo felt he had to make and who is to say he wouldn't try it again.
The Nationals could be presented a similar situation this season and Rendon is their most MLB-ready top prospect. He has only appeared in 43 minor league games because of injury, but shined in the Arizona Fall League and is regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the minors. A .338 average and .930 OPS in the AFL was convincing proof.
Harper had played 130 minor league games before reaching the majors, but Rendon played three seasons at a major college baseball program. The Nationals may also be less concerned with Rendon reaching ‘Super Two’ status on his contract than they were with Harper.
Rendon appeared in eight games with the Nationals during Spring Training of 2012 before being optioned on March 12. He will probably get a more extended audition this season before heading to the minors, possibly to Syracuse after finishing last year at Harrisburg. How long he stays there will be determined by a lot of things, but don’t be surprised if Rendon reaches Washington earlier than expected. As of now a September call-up would seem to be a good guess, but unforeseen circumstances could speed up his timeline.
Tell us what you think, when do you see Rendon making the majors?