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2011 MLB Draft: Fearless Prediction #1

  • Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon will be the first overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft.

Not exactly the boldest of statements, I know. This first prediction of 2011 is a tad lame at face value, so, if nothing else, consider it my personal attempt at curtailing some of this “the top of the 2011 draft is wide open” talk that I’ve read over the past few months. To me, this is a prediction that doesn’t really need to be made because Rendon going to Pittsburgh is as much of a lock as any projected pick can be six months out. However, this isn’t the universally accepted truth that I expected it to be by this point. Rendon is the best prospect in this year’s draft by a wide enough margin that I have to believe that there are only three realistic reasons why somebody would question it at this point…

1. Desire to be different in an effort to stand apart from the pack and draw traffic (a tactic I pass no judgment on, by the way)

2. Lack of faith in Pittsburgh’s front office to make the “right” choice

3. General restlessness after incredibly predictable first overall picks in 2009 and 2010

As mentioned, the first reason is cool with me. For some, it gets pretty darn boring when one prospect stands so far above the rest. When that’s the case, it is only natural to shake things up and claim another prospect superior. As an added bonus, and perhaps the real reason some consistently love to take the contrary point, if you’re right about an off the wall prediction, then you look like a genius. If you’re wrong, well, at least you went down in a blaze of glory.

***

There are some interesting, and hopefully less cynical, reasons why somebody might think Rendon would slip. In the interest of fairness, here they are…

1. Rendon’s recovery from injury (practices have reportedly gone quite well, but some choose to wait until the games start to pass final judgment…)

2. Genuine appreciation of his draft competition, most notably the two high profile college pitching prospects UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole and TCU LHP Matt Purke

3. Any baseball talk in winter is a good thing, manufactured or not

***

All legitimate reasons in my view, but nothing there is evidence enough that he’ll go anywhere but first overall. The second reason is the most intriguing because both Cole and Purke are outstanding prospects who deserve to at least be in the conversation at this point, but, really, it ends there. They deserve to be in the conversation and nothing more. There are some really strong prep pitchers who might otherwise make a run for the top spot, but none of the big names — you’ll see which names in due time, I promise — really stack up to Cole and Purke, let alone Rendon. Same thing goes for the strong group of college position players this year. The idea floated by some that George Springer is in the mix to go first overall boggles my mind. Really nice prospect, no doubt, but comparing the two players, both statistically and from a scouting perspective, isn’t fair. The quick notes I have on Rendon, all taken prior to the 2010 season:

SO 3B Anthony Rendon (2011): special power, could be plus-plus in-game by graduation; can be inconsistent with glove, but truly excellent defensive tools (great hands, above-average mobility); weakest tool is speed, which is merely average; plus arm; rare discipline at plate, approaches every at bat like a professional; very popular Ryan Zimmerman comp, but has also been compared to Evan Longoria and Gordon Beckham

And then he went out and did this (slash lines are park/league adjusted): .407/.544/.832 with 68/21 BB/K and 15/19 SB

Most amazingly, Rendon did his best Joe Dimaggio impression by putting up the following (these aren’t park/league adjusted, just raw totals): 26 HR/22 K

  • Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon will be the first overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft.
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