Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is tearing it up in Spring Training, but does that mean he will be able to squeeze his way onto the Opening Day roster?
Rendon is batting .385 with one home run, five RBIs, two doubles and one walk in 13 at-bats this spring. His five RBIs leads the team, while his batting average is the second best among Nationals players with at least 13 at-bats, behind only Bryce Harper. The problem Rendon is facing is that he has only spent one year in the minors, in which he appeared in four different leagues in 2012, with Double-A being the highest level he reached.
The 22-year old, who was selected by Washington sixth overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, batted .233 with six home runs, 12 RBIs, eight doubles and four triples in 133 at-bats last season. His power numbers increased a little bit in Double-A, but his batting average fell way off while his strikeouts skyrocketed. In all fairness, he also more than doubled his plate appearances in Double-A than any other league he appeared in.
The other problem Rendon faces is that Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa command the three starting infield positions that he could play. Not to mention, Steve Lombardozzi is set to be the utility infielder in the reserve role. The Nationals will most likely need one more reserve infielder on the bench, but first baseman Chad Tracy will probably get that role.
The good news is Rendon is showing he has great talent and potential at the Major League level, which only helps his cause in the future. However, being with the team when they break for camp does not look to be in the cards this season.
“No. He needs the reps. He needs to go play,” manager Davey Johnson said.
Rendon will get more quality playing time in the minors, which means that is where the Nationals feel most comfortable with him. There is no doubt he could have a huge impact in the big leagues one day, but for now he needs to improve his skills at the plate and in the field.