With four weeks remaining before the 2011 MLB Rule 4 Draft, we begin our annual look at amateur talents the Baltimore Orioles could (should) be targeting in the 1st Round and beyond. Over the next two weeks we will bear down on the eight potential 1st Round targets listed below, followed by a week dedicated to the 2nd - 5th Rounds and finally the 6th - 10th Rounds. As a reminder, the draft coverage here will focus on Baltimore. More in-depth coverage, including rankings, scouting reports, videos and more can be found over at http://www.diamondscapescouting.com/.
Potential targets at 1:4
Anthony Rendon / 3b / Rice Univ.
Gerrit Cole / rhp / UCLA
Bubba Starling / of/rhp / Gardner Edgerton HS (Gardner, Kan.)
Sonny Gray / rhp / Vanderbilt Univ.
Danny Hultzen / lhp / Univ. of Virginia
Dylan Bundy / rhp / Owasso HS (Owasso, Okla.)
Taylor Jungmann / rhp / Univ. of Texas
Jed Bradley / lhp / Georgia Tech
*Every player discussed in the Depot Draft Preview has been scouted by Nick J. Faleris, either through his efforts at DiamondScape Scouting or as part of his duties as an Associate Scout in the Midwest Region for a National League organization.
Anthony Rendon (3b, Rice Univ.)
Age at Draft: 21y0m
Games Scouted: 7 (in person); 14 (video)
Grades - Now (Future):
Hit: 50/55 (65/70)
Power: 45/50 (55/60)
Arm: 60 (60)
Defense: 55/60 (60/65)
Speed: 55/60 (55)
Feel: 55 (60/65)
Overall Future Potential: 63
*Notes on Grades: The Scouting Scale works from 20-80, with 50 being Major League Average. The scale operates loosely on a bell curve, so the further you move from 50 the fewer grades you'll find among ML players (e.g. Aroldis Chapman's fastball, Ichiro Suzuki's arm strength, Adam Dunn's power and Albert Pujols' hit tool would all be 80 grade). A 60 grade is sometimes referred to as plus and a 70 grade is sometimes referred to as plus-plus.
Average build with strong wrists/forearms, solid core, lower-body strength. More strength than frame lets on. Good agility, excellent body control with quick first step.
While much of the focus on Rendon often centers around his bat, he is easily one of the best defensive infielders in the college game, and could hold down shortstop at the collegiate level if asked. He has a strong and accurate arm and shows consistent strength and accuracy from a multitude of angles, highlighting his footwork and quick release. Rendon charges very well, has no difficulty with throwing on the run, and displays a high level of comfort to both sides. An excellent defender already, he should provide plus defense as a pro, with a chance to grow into a truly elite defender at the highest level.
Rendon's bat is special. He generates very good bat speed through a strong core, maintaining and then transferring the force in his swing through his strong wrists. The top notch bat speed produces loud contact as often as any amateur in the game, and portends an ability to hit for average and power (despite his unimposing physical appearance) at the next level. What sets Rendon's offensive prowess from other elite bats is his command of the strikezone and his ability to control the barrel. He has an uncanny ability to lay off close balls and spoil tough strikes, helping him to eventually find the pitch he needs to do damage. His approach seldom falters (though he was caught pressing some earlier this year), and there is little question his game should transition well to the pro ranks.
The story this spring has been a sore shoulder for the five-tool third baseman, which has kept him in the DH role for most of the season. Perhaps stemming from the sore shoulder, Rendon's power numbers have fallen off drastically, with his isolated power dropping from a whopping .407 to a merely impressive .189. Barring troublesome medical reports come draft time, there is little concern that this will have a long term effect on Rendon's game. Provide the shoulder checks-out, he is easily the top position player in the draft class, arguably the top player overall, and on par with the likes of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg in terms of future potential and draft time skill set. Rendon is the rare five-tool talent with game changing ability in each category (he was clocked at 4.2 seconds home-to-first a number of times last year, during the USA CNT Trials and twice this spring), and an intricate feel for the game on defense, in the batters box and on the basepaths. He has a chance to move quickly once he signs and could be a perennial All-Star at the Major League level.
Projected position: Elite third baseman on 1st division team; perennial all-star candidate
Suggested draft slot: Top five overall
This scouting report originally published by the author here.