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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

June 7, 2011 at 7:13 AM

Exclusive: Mariners draft Anthony Rendon in alternate universe


(Anthony Rendon celebrates his selection in the draft on Monday with his family. He was taken No. 6 overall by Washington, not No. 2 overall by the Mariners. Photo by Associated Press).

Nine years ago, when the Giants had what seemed to be an inevitable World Series championship snatched away from them by a late Angels rally in Game 6 — they had been ahead 5-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh — Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle contacted several newspaper writers. She asked them to send her the first couple of paragraphs of the stories they had already written (because on deadline, you have to have your stories done before the game ends) celebrating the new champions of baseball: the, uh, San Francisco Giants.

As you’ll recall, the Angels won that game 6-5 and then took the title with a win in Game 7. Knapp compiled all the busted leads (including mine) in this article.

I was reminded of that last night when Bud Selig uttered the words, “With the second pick of the 2011 draft, the Seattle Mariners select….Danny Hultzen.”

Didn’t see that coming.

In anticipation of getting a story posted on our website immediately upon the announcement of the Mariners selection, I had already written an article and sent it to my editor. Unfortunately, it was about Anthony Rendon, not Danny Hultzen. And I had prepared the framework of stories about Bubba Starling and Francisco Lindor as well.

Danny Hultzen? Nada, though I fortunately did have a lot of background information compiled on the top six possibilities, and the Mariners’ media relations department quickly provided statistics and a press release. Let’s just say I was scrambling for about 30 minutes yesterday afternoon.

At any rate, I thought it would be fun to post the initial story that would have been on our website if the commissioner had said, “Anthony Rendon,” instead of “Danny Hultzen.”

By Larry Stone

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Mariners on Monday selected Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon with the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB draft, choosing the top-rated collegiate hitter over two highly touted high school position players and a slew of top pitching prospects.

Rendon, who turns 21 today, hit .327 with six homers and 37 runs batted in for Rice, which was eliminated from the NCAA regional tournament on Sunday. He walked an NCAA-leading 80 times and had a .520 on-base percentage to go with a .523 slugging percentage.

Those numbers are down markedly from his previous two seasons at Rice, performances that made Rendon the consensus No. 1 draft prospect heading into 2011. Rendon hit 20 homers as a freshman and 26 as a sophomore, but this season the NCAA changed the bat regulations to have the aluminum perform more like wood, and homers are down 40 percent in collegiate baseball.

Rendon has also been hampered all year by a muscle strain in the back of his right shoulder, an injury that added considerable intrigue to his draft status. Rendon told the Seattle Times last week he believes that the injury will heal once he has time to rest it this summer.

“The doctor says I need rest and rehab and I’ll be fine,” he said. “In the middle of our season, I don’t want to sit out and miss 20 or 30 games, so I’m fighting through it. Over the summer, I’ll strengthen it and rest it, and I’ll be good to go.”

The 6-foot-0, 190-pound Rendon, a strong defensive player, is rated by scouts as the position player closest to the major leagues. The Mariners can envision a future infield of Justin Smoak at first base, Dustin Ackley at second base, Nick Franklin at shortstop and Rendon at third.

The Mariners chose Rendon over Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor and Oklahoma prep outfielder Bubba Starling, and highly rated pitchers such as the University of Virginia’s Danny Hultzen and UCLA’s Trevor Bauer.



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