The Washington Nationals surprisingly ended up with Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the No. 6 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, nabbing him even though most expected him to go higher. At this time last year, he was projected to be the No. 1 pick. But then he struggled a bit with ankle and shoulder injuries, which hurt his stock a little bit.
Nevertheless, the Nationals have to be thrilled that they ended up with who many feel was one of the best players on the board. The only intriguing part: Rendon plays third base, and face of the franchise Ryan Zimmerman also plays third base.
So what do the Nationals do? They do have options. When asked by the MLB Network commentators whether the team had discussed changing his position at any point, Rendon said they hadn't. But he added that he would be open to playing anywhere and doing whatever they ask.
One possibility is to convert Rendon to second base and choose to move either Danny Espinosa or Ian Desmond. Espinosa is a natural shortstop that is playing better right now, so he would seem to be the natural guy to keep, but there is a lot of time left to make that decision. The Nationals could also try Rendon in the outfield, though that would be a much tougher transition. Finally, they could move Zimmerman to first base, which probably makes little sense now, but may make sense in 2012 if Zimmerman struggles with injury.
(There's also the possibility that Rendon is insurance for if Zimmerman decides to leave after his contract is up in 2013, but we're going to shove that remote possibility aside).
Either way, the Nationals believe getting the best player who can advance to the majors quickly was the right way to go. In speaking to reporters after the pick, general manager Mike Rizzo said the team was "pleasantly surprised" he was available and that the team would decide his position "down the road" while starting him at third base. Time will tell if that trend continues.