The Rice Owls were coasting to a pretty easy win Sunday afternoon, leading Louisiana-Lafayette 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. But the Cajuns had two men on and two out when Matt Goulas sent a rocket down the third base line. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon dove to his right, snared the ball, rose, and made the throw to first to nail Goulas and end the inning. It was a play that had even the jaded types in the press box reacting in wonder.
"That was one of the greatest plays I've ever seen in my life, Anthony Rendon made," Mike Ojala said. "That was pretty cool."
Ojala was the Rice pitcher on the mound when that play was made, and he's seen Rendon make lots of play at third base. So you know the play's special if it elicits that kind of response.
Now why talk about this during the middle of the week? Well, the Astros have been conducting their amateur draft this week, and while Rendon wasn't draft-eligible this year, he's destined to be on the top of every team's draft board come next season. The guy is so good that he hit more homers than he struck out, and he hit nearly 30 homers. His slugging percentage is over .800, and he reaches base over one time for every two plate appearances. And while he's not the fastest runner, he's got the same base-running instincts that made Jeff Bagwell such a threat on base.
In short, Anthony Rendon is the real deal, and I want to see him playing for the Houston Astros.
The odds are, he's going to be one of the top players drafted. So for the Astros to get a chance at him, they're going to have to continue be bad. Not only are they going to have to continue being bad, they're going to have to go back to being awful.
I know this isn't a popular opinion, but for the better of the club, the Astros have really got to stink it up for the rest of the season. I know they've been bad this season, but they're not the-worst-team-in-the-majors bad. Hell, they won a majority of their games last week. And that's just not going to cut it when it comes to being in position to draft Rendon next June.
If the Astros are going to have any hopes of bypassing the Orioles, Royals, Indians, Mariners, Brewers, or D-Backs for that number one pick next season, they're going to have really suck. Really, really suck.
So Brad Mills is going to have to continue with some of his more puzzling moves. Like sitting his hottest hitter, Hunter Pence, because Cory Sullivan needs to play. Never mind that the team would be better by benching Carlos Lee. Keep playing Geoff Blum, who doesn't have the range of a statue, at shortstop. Keep sending Pedro Feliz out to third base, and keep trying to convince us that Kevin Cash is a major league catcher (okay, Cash and Feliz are probably more on Ed Wade than Mills, but for this plan to come together, those two have to keep playing because they're worse than non-entities, they suck).
Nobody wants the Astros to lose, but trust me, Rendon is that good. This guy's going to anchor an infield for years to come. He could be the guy to lead the team back to glory.
Of course, even if the team gets the right to pick Rendon, that doesn't mean they will draft Rendon. Bobby Heck's drafts have been good, so far. And he's got a good track record. But Drayton McLane still owns the Astros, and while Drayton talks a good game, he doesn't always follow through, especially where money is concerned. So while they could get the pick, the Astros could still blow the pick.
Anthony Rendon is going to become a rich man next year. And it would be better for all if he were to become a rich man because he was the number one draft choice of the Houston Astros.