Anthony Rendon Rumors
The Cardinals and Reds sit atop the NL Central standings thanks to the two highest-scoring offenses in the National League. Even without vintage Albert Pujols, the Cards lead the league in runs (227) and OPS+ (120). Here's the latest on a few of their division rivals...
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington saw possible first overall selection Anthony Rendon three times last week, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Pirates are considering a handful of players with the top pick.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs examines Charlie Morton's unusual platoon splits and says the Pirates right-hander will have to adjust his approach against left-handed hitters if he wants to maintain his early-season success.
- When incoming Astros owner Jim Crane talks about spending wisely and having enough money to run the team effectively, it sounds good, but as Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle says, “nothing really matters except results.”
- Sean Green accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A and will stay with the Brewers organization, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy (on Twitter). Milwaukee designated the reliever for assignment earlier in the month.
The Pirates are considering three to five players with the first overall pick in this June’s draft, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. There’s no obvious top pick like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, so the Pirates are still evaluating and discussing their options.
"There is not a clear-cut No. 1 this year," GM Neal Huntington said. "That's why we continue to work. That's why we continue to follow a handful of players and do our due diligence.”
UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen appear to be in the mix for the top pick. Huntington and other Pirates execs have seen all three college stars.
Conor Glassey of Baseball America reported earlier this week that high school shortstop Francisco Lindor and high school outfielder Bubba Starling have also entered the discussion for the Pirates' top pick. However, Colin Dunlap of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that the Pirates believe Lindor is "waaay too small," and they're not even considering him for the top pick (Twitter link). Lindor is listed at 5-foot-11, 170 lbs.
The Pirates have spent more on the draft than any other organization since 2009 and, once again, scouting director Greg Smith has been handed “full assurance” that he can take whichever player he wants, regardless of bonus demands. The Pirates expect to be aggressive after the first round, according to Langosch. Their second selection is 61st overall; for a team-by-team breakdown of top picks, click here.
There is still a lot that can and will change between now and the amateur draft in three weeks, but that didn't stop ESPN's Keith Law from posting his first mock draft today. It's an Insider-only piece, but here are the important points...
- The Pirates are considering Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon, and have "done their due diligence" on Dylan Bundy. Law notes that "under Neal Huntington the Pirates have long considered value relative to cost in their drafts, sometimes preferring to spend less in the first round when they see opportunities to spend their savings on other appealing prospects in later rounds." He has them taking Danny Hultzen first overall.
- Everyone Law has spoken to says the Mariners will take Rendon as long as the medicals check out, and he hears from the very good source that there is nothing structural wrong with the Rice third baseman's shoulder.
- The Diamondbacks will take Hultzen third overall if he's available, and they're hoping for Bundy or Trevor Bauer with the seventh overall pick. That pick is compensation for failing to sign Barret Loux last year.
- The Orioles have interest in Bundy, Bauer, and Jed Bradley with the fourth pick. Law emphasizes that everyone has told him the Royals want a college pitcher with the fifth pick. The Indians have their eyes on Bauer for eighth overall.
- High school outfielder Brandon Nimmo is looking for $2MM, and Law has him going to the Rays with the 32nd pick.
Paul Maholm (2003), Neil Walker (2004), Andrew McCutchen (2005) and Pedro Alvarez (2008) were all first round selections by the Pirates. The last time they had the first overall pick, however, they selected Bryan Bullington (2002), who has yet to make a significant impact in the Major Leagues. The Pirates select first overall this June; here’s the latest on what they’ll do with the top pick:
- The Pirates appear to be looking primarily at UCLA righty Gerrit Cole, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen with the first overall selection, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Nine of 14 scouts predicted that the Pirates will take Cole, with three predicting Rendon and two predicting Hultzen.
- For interviews with all three players, check out our Draft Prospect Q&A series.
- All signs point to the Pirates taking a college player rather than, say, high school standout Bubba Starling, according to Mayo.
- The Pirates released Double-A right-hander Tom Boleska, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Boleska, a 24-year-old right-hander, has a 2.73 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in five minor league seasons, but has struggled in 12 appearances at Double-A this year.
- You can follow the Pirates on MLBTR with Facebook, Twitter and RSS.
Baseball's amateur draft takes place in exactly one month. Here are the latest updates on a pair of teams with high first round picks...
- Orioles amateur scouting director Joe Jordan told Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that he has good sense of which players his club will be choosing from when it selects third overall in June. It’s too early to know precisely which players will be available so Jordan is still considering about ten prospects with Baltimore’s top pick.
- Manny Machado, last year’s third overall pick, has a left knee injury and as Zrebiec points out, an extended absence would be quite a blow to the Orioles. It's unclear how much time the 18-year-old will miss. He has a .333/.450/.611 line in Class A.
- The Pirates are focusing heavily on UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon as they prepare to make the first overall pick, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, there’s internal concern about Rendon’s stature and health and there’s concern about Cole “simply because he is a pitcher,” so the Pirates haven’t ruled out other options.
- Check out River Ave. Blues for a detailed draft order.
As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series includes four of the top college pitchers in the nation and a top college position player. Here's another position player to watch.
Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is considered the top college position player in the 2011 draft and he remains a candidate to be the first overall pick this June. Both Baseball America and ESPN.com have reported within the week that it appears Rendon will either go first overall (to the Pirates) or second (to the Mariners) with UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole going to the other team.
Rendon entered the season as the top prospect in the draft after being named Baseball America's Player of the Year in 2010 and the publication's Freshman of the Year in 2009. Ankle and shoulder injuries have slowed Rendon down this year and limited his time at third base, where he is considered an excellent defender. The 20-year-old Houston native shines at the plate as well and has a .350/.552/.552 line with 62 walks so far this season.
I spoke to Rendon earlier today about his injuries, the team he rooted for growing up and the hype surrounding the draft. Here's a transcript of our conversation:
Ben Nicholson-Smith - Not to start off on a bad note, but I’ve got to ask you about your injuries. Your ankle and your shoulder injuries - have those been the biggest challenges that you’ve had to face as a player this year?
Anthony Rendon - Yeah, definitely. You want to keep on playing the game that you love, so it’s always going to be on your mind, but it’s part of being a player - actually getting over those injuries to be stronger when you come back and I feel like I’m doing that.
BNS - How are you feeling now?
AR - I feel good. The ankle’s fine. I’m still on my throwing program with my arm, so I’m just trying to get it back stronger so I can go back 100% on the field and not have to worry about it down the road.
BNS - Is that the goal - just to be able to go out there and basically relax?
AR - Oh yeah, definitely. That’s a whole part of the game. When you play you’re supposed to be relaxed, you’re not supposed to be tense out there and you’re not supposed to be thinking about too many things. If you think about things too much, you’re not going to be as great as you can be because you can forget about other aspects of the game and it can hurt you in the long run or you might make an errors.
BNS - One of the things I hear a lot is that you’re a strong defender. How do you go about preparing defensively and improving yourself on the field?
AR - I like to get loose out there, I like to get free out there, but at the same time, you’ve got to be prepared so you can read the hops and stuff like that. I like to take practice seriously and I like to have fun out there and just focus on little things because when little things add up - just keeping your head down on a ground ball or keeping a free hand on top to guard against bad hops - those little things add up.
BNS - A few years ago the Braves drafted you and you were a 27th rounder back then. It’s pretty apparent that the industry sees you as a completely different player now than you were back then, but do you see yourself differently?
AR - I do see myself differently. I’ve changed physically and mentally. Back in high school I was probably about 5’10” and 165 pounds and I’ve grown since then [Rice's website lists him at 6'0", 190 pounds] because we’ve got such a great strength program. And ... it’s not only the physical, but the mental aspects, too. Handling the problems that may arise, the different issues and the different aspects of the game. I’ve learned the game a lot more. I can kind of predict what’s going to happen next or what the other team’s going to do in a certain situation, so I’ve actually started to appreciate the game more and learn the ins and outs of the game instead of just going out there and playing.
BNS - Are you in touch with any of the guys who have come through [the Rice] program like David Aardsma or Lance Berkman? Any of the current big leaguers who went through the same things that you did?
AR - It’s not that much, but I’ll talk to Berkman every now and then ... we’ll talk about baseball and he’ll just keep us laughing the whole time. [He has gone through] pretty much the same thing as what we’re going through now, so we just talk about the game and how he is and how the program is.
BNS - Were you an Astros fan growing up, coming from Houston?
AR - Yeah, definitely. They’re the hometown team. They haven’t always been the greatest team, so some of the years you get mad at them because they haven’t done so well, but deep down they’re the hometown team.
I remember growing up, watching [Jeff] Bagwell and his weird stance and [Richard] Hidalgo and his arm in right and left field. I definitely enjoyed watching the Astros growing up. My Dad would take my brother and I - though I only went to one game at the Astrodome [before the Astros moved].
BNS - In terms of talking to guys like Berkman, have they given you any advice about the draft, because it’s obviously going to be a different experience for you this year than it was a few years ago.
AR - You know the funny thing is you try not to worry about the draft too much, so that hasn’t been a topic that we’ve talked about. But the people that I’ve talked with say ‘just take it one step at a time.’
One of the things one person told me was ‘don’t let your highs get too high or your lows get too low.’ It’s just baseball, it’s just a game. With the draft if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.
BNS - Are you trying to embrace all of this coverage and all of this buzz or are you trying to ignore it as much as possible?
AR - I mean you can’t ignore it with everything out there and it is a lifelong dream to play professional baseball so it’s not just that I can’t ignore it, I don’t want to ignore it. It’s what I want to do. I want to play baseball, it’s why I’ve been playing for the last 17 years of my life. So you can’t ignore it and if anybody tells you differently they’re lying. But you can’t get ahead of yourself and I’m not in the pros. If it happens, it happens. I can’t get ahead of myself and think about pro ball right now. We’re still trying to make it to the College World Series.
BNS - In terms of developing as a player, what are your goals for the rest of this season and potentially further on? What kinds of improvements might you want to make?
AR - I want to get faster. I tell everybody that. I’ve never been the fast guy on the field, so I want to bring a little speed.
And obviously I’ve got to treat my body better or something like that. Drink more milk or something. I’ve been injured for the past year, so maybe I should start taking some vitamins or something. I think I can take care of my body more, because I don’t want to be known as the guy who’s injury-prone. I don’t want to be that guy, I just want to be a reliable guy that plays every day.
BNS - What about all the walks that you’re drawing? I know they’re pitching around you, but how do walks fit into your offensive game?
AR - It definitely has a big impact. I mean I’m not trying to walk. As a hitter, I want to hit the ball every time I go up there, so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing. But it definitely plays a big part in my game.
Once you get so many walks, you can’t get into that rhythm. If they walk you intentionally one at bat and you only see four balls outside, you can’t get a read on his arm angle or pick up little tendencies, so you really get out of rhythm.
BNS - Have you allowed yourself to think about what you’re going to do on the day of the draft?
AR - We’re going to be playing baseball actually, so I can’t be worried about the draft, we’re going to have a game to win!
We're 41 days away from the amateur draft! The Pirates, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and Royals will lead off with the first five picks. Click here to see the entire draft order. Several of the links below require subscriptions, which we heartily recommend purchasing. Today's notes:
- ESPN's Keith Law hears that South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has a torn ligament in his wrist and could miss the rest of the spring (Twitter link). Bradley was expected to be a first round pick before the injury.
- Baseball America's John Manuel, Jim Callis, and Conor Glassey make picks for the first round - not projections, but their own preferences.
- UCLA righty Trevor Bauer is a top five candidate, writes Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, but there are concerns over his workload. Talking to ESPN's Jason A. Churchill, one assistant GM admitted he's worried about Bauer's pitch counts. He's averaged 124.5 pitches per start, according to Churchill.
- In a draft heavy on pitching, Goldstein says second baseman Kolten Wong out of Hawaii "is now getting late first round consideration."
- Connecticut outfielder George Springer has bounced back lately, perhaps enough to put him within the first ten picks, says Churchill. For more on Springer, check out Ben Nicholson-Smith's interview. Ben's other prospective draft pick interviews include Sonny Gray, Matt Purke, Danny Hultzen, and the elusive Gerrit Cole.
- Current buzz from Churchill still has Rice's Anthony Rendon going to the Mariners at #2 overall.
It's far too early in the spring for teams to have their draft boards finalized, as Keith Law pointed out at ESPN.com this week. With nearly two months remaining between now and the draft, a lot can change, but that doesn't stop Law from passing along the latest on the early intentions of some teams with high picks:
- Law hears that the Mariners will take either Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon with the second pick in the draft, depending on which player is available after the Pirates select first overall.
- The D'Backs, who pick third, covet Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, according to Law.
- The Orioles are 'extremely likely' to take a college pitcher with the fourth overall pick. They could take Hultzen or Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley.
- The Royals (5th pick) are also likely to take a college arn and they're interested in UConn right-hander Matt Barnes, Hultzen and Bradley.
- The D'Backs (7th pick) and Cubs (9th pick) have Vanderbilt right-hander Sonny Gray high on their internal rankings, according to Law.
Links for Wednesday, after a walk-off win for Brandon Inge and the Tigers...
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says Pedro Feliciano has a "damaged shoulder" according to Ben Shpigel of the New York Times (on Twitter). It sounds like surgery is a possibility for the Yankees' $8MM investment.
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s leg injury weakened the Twins' middle infield, which means they may look for infield help, rather than relievers in potential deals, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Trade candidate Kevin Slowey hasn’t pitched in a game since April 4th because of bursitis in his right shoulder, but he could become available again this season.
- Anthony Rendon nudged out Gerrit Cole for top spot on Baseball America’s updated list of top draft eligible players.
- The Yankees were frustrated that the Astros never made them fully aware that Roy Oswalt was available last summer, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Credit Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for acquiring Oswalt quietly and later denying the Yankees their primary offseason target, Cliff Lee.
Links for Monday, as Angels number two prospect Tyler Chatwood prepares for his big league debut against the first place Indians...
- The Red Sox were non-negotiable on getting two club options on Clay Buchholz's contract, reports Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Buchholz explained, "If it was me and I didn’t have a wife and a kid that I had to take care of, it might have been a decision that we would have thought about a little bit more."
- Teams are locking up their best players earlier and placing increased emphasis on club options, writes Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, and the result may be that "the best players in the game are going to be significantly underpaid during their primes," while the free agent market could become even more inflated.
- Reliever Duaner Sanchez signed with the Long Island Ducks, the team announced. Sanchez hasn't pitched in the Majors since May of '09, his career derailed by a July '06 taxi cab accident. His Ducks teammates include Ruddy Lugo, J.R. House, Lew Ford, and John Rodriguez.
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes about how Royals owner David Glass changed his tightfisted ways upon hiring Dayton Moore as GM about five years ago. Glass won't rule out keeping his talented wave of top prospects together on long-term deals "regardless of who their agent is."
- Baseball America links: Conor Glassey chatted with potential top draft pick Anthony Rendon, while J.J. Cooper lists the youngest players in every league.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has details on the iPads Carl Crawford's agent Brian Peters distributed as a promotional tool early in the outfielder's free agency. Though GM Theo Epstein said the iPad didn't change his evaluation of Crawford, he was compelled to return the favor with some Red Sox Beats By Dre headphones. First Dr. Dre mention in MLBTR history?