Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper—some of the most talented players of the game have progressed through the Washington Nationals' farm system over the past several seasons.
It's obvious that their development team is doing something right.
With that being the case, their top prospects deserve monitoring moving forward.
According to Baseball America, the current top prospect in their system is third baseman Anthony Rendon.
Rendon is an excellent contact hitter, has the best strike zone discipline and is the best defensive infielder in the system.
At third base, though, he's blocked by Zimmerman. Baseball America opines that by 2016, Zimmerman could shift over to first base to make room for Rendon.
While there's still plenty of time to get acquainted with the team's latest top prospects, it's never too early to get an understanding of what he can bring to the table.
Rendon was the No. 6 overall pick by the Nationals in the 2011 draft. General manager Mike Rizzo and the team's scouting department took a big risk by drafting him that early, as Rendon suffered an injury-plagued career at Rice University. He was hampered by torn ligaments in his ankle, a broken ankle and a strained throwing shoulder.
After a few games in High-A Potomac, Rendon again was placed on the disabled list after fracturing his ankle.
In 25 games since his return, he produced a line of .273/.378/.532. In three games at the Double-A level, he hit just .083.
However, those poor numbers should be an anomaly given Rendon's promising skill set.
Rendon is a gifted hitter with the natural ability to spray the ball to all fields. This is mostly attributed to his exceptional knowledge of the strike zone.
The only thing holding him back from breaking out in the minors is his health. With enough at-bats, he should be able to get himself back on track.
In terms of power, Rendon projects as an average home run threat. He has great bat speed and attacks the ball aggressively in the zone, but he has a natural line-drive ability. While that's not at all a bad thing—it will contribute to him being a perennial .300 hitter—it does diminish his potential for big home run numbers.
He'll be an extra-base hit machine in terms of doubles and possibly triples, but lacks the loft in his swing necessary to hit 30-plus homers.
It could happen one day, but just not yet.
Rendon has a shortstop's arm at third base. He's a bit slow on the release, but his arm strength more than makes up for that. This contributes to him being the top fielding prospect in the team's system, and possibly one of the top defensive players in the entire organization.
He reacts quickly and makes great reads on the ball, almost always play the easiest hops and uses his strong arm to make up for any time he takes to field the ball cleanly.
There's no doubt in my mind that he'll win a few Gold Gloves over his career.
The only downside to Rendon's game is his lack of speed. He gets down the line slowly and isn't particularly quick out of the box.
His speed on the bases won't kill the Nationals, but he won't be stealing very many bases.
Injuries are the only thing that will hold Rendon back from stardom. His raw skills project well to the majors. It's just a matter of getting his at-bats and working back from his large number of trips to the disabled list.
If he stays healthy, he'll be the heir of Zimmerman at the hot corner.
There's a strong chance that he is a 2013-September call up, and that's when most fans will get their first chance to witness the skills of the best prospect in the Nationals' system.
*Scouting report courtesy of baseballprospectnation.com
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