Minor League Prospect Comparison: Nolan Arenado vs Anthony Rendon

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Nolan Arenado #12 of the Colorado Rockies stands on base during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Today I'm bringing you a prospect comparison that was suggested and seconded by a few readers. I'm more than happy to do this type of thing for anyone that you guys are interested in. Just let me know in the comments and I'll make every effort to get them back to you, my adoring fans four readers who are not my family. If anyone is getting tired of these, let me know as well. I am working on a few other projects on the side, but figured I'd keep doing these because hey, everyone gets bored at work, amirite? Point is, if you all don't like these, I can shelve them but as long as you enjoy them, I will roll them out alongside some fresh content. Feel free to let me know on twitter (@cdgoldstein), email (goldstein.faketeams@gmail.com) or in the comments. On to the story...

Anthony Rendon - 2B/3B - Nationals - That getting picked at 6th overall was considered a slide for Rendon will tell you all you need to know about how talented he is (don't worry though, I'm about to tell you a lot more). Rendon entered his junior year atop most mock drafts, but was limited to designated hitter by a strained shoulder, and has faced repeated injuries to his right ankle (torn ligaments in 2009 and a broken ankle in 2010). Despite all this, he has yet to garner the "injury prone" label, though there is some slight concern within the industry about his long-term health prospects. While he may not excel at staying 100% healthy, when he does play Rendon does plenty of things right. Rendon has tremendous control of the strike zone and the bat speed to make pitchers pay when challenging him over the plate. He generates that bat speed with strong hands and quick wrists, and shows a tremendous ability to barrel the ball on the bat using superb hand-eye coordination. Rendon has the type of hitting ability that could win him batting titles someday, and pairs it with an average-to-above power tool. His swing isn't perfect however, containing excess movement before it starts which can lead to timing issues. This is a minor quibble when looking at the overall package though. When it comes to defense Rendon is difficult to evaluate at the moment. As I mentioned earlier he DH'd the majority of his junior year, and is potentially facing a position change due to Ryan Zimmerman's presence at the hot corner in the nation's capital. However, based on when he was able to play in college, Rendon displayed smooth actions at third, with sharp instincts and an above-average arm. His arm strength is certainly in question given the lingering shoulder soreness, but his other abilities should remain intact. If he does get shifted to the keystone, his arm strength shouldn't come into play either way. His above-average range at third should translate well to decent range at second, though he won't ever be the most athletic player at the position. Rendon is a high ceiling, high floor, impact talent that shouldn't spend too much time in the minors. I wouldn't be surprised if he started at Hi-A this year and sees a promotion to Double-A at the half way point. We should see him break into the majors at some point next year.. My advice to you: Don't let him fall as far as he did in real life.

Nolan Arenado - 3B - Rockies - A lifetime .302 hitter in the minors, the hit tool has never been in question for the 2009 2nd round draft pick. Arenado broke out to the tune of 20 home runs and a .298/.349/.487 slash line in 2011. The power was a nice surprise after totaling only 14 home runs his first two years in the minors, though it came along with a near 100% increase in at-bats. Arenado has remarkable hand-eye coordination and strong, quick wrists (sound familiar?) that allow him to barrel the ball well and make consistent, hard contact. Arenado's 2011 is certainly impressive and will allow him to begin 2012 at Double-A Tulsa, however it's important to account for the environment that he played in as the California League is home to a bevy of hitters' havens and could have had an impact on his home run totals. A huge improvement that Arenado was able to make that isn't mitigated by his hitting environment is the massive upgrade in his walk percentage, going from 4.8% in 2010 to 8.1% in 2011, while facing more advanced pitchers. This bodes well for Arenado's future, as his production would be heavily affected by BABIP if his strikeout and walk rates remained similar to his 2010 numbers. Given the improvement to his walk rate, and with the hope that it's here to stay, his numbers become more stable year to year. That being said, Arenado will never be an on-base monster- but he won't strike out much either (9.1% in 2011). Along with improving his eye at the plate, Arenado spent a lot of time improving his conditioning between the 2010-2011 season and it showed in the field. He dropped 20 pounds last offseason and displayed improved range and footwork as a result, though neither is considered above average. Arenado has an impressive arm, showing a quick release and soft hands with plus accuracy. While there was talk of moving him across the diamond, Arenado quieted his doubters during 2011 and most think he will be able to stay at third base due to his notable work ethic and revamped physique. Despite the great extension he gets in his swing, Arenado doesn't project to hit for more than 20-25 home runs due to a relatively flat swing path. However, he will be playing half his games in Coors field, potentially as soon as July or August this year, and has shown the ability to hit the ball with some backspin. Given his work ethic, ability to make adjustments and projected playing environment, I could see Arenado posting several seasons in the 28-32 home run range and a slash line of .310/.350/.500 during his prime.

Choosing between Rendon and Arenado is like choosing between Minka Kelly and Mila Kunis... Yeah ,you might have your personal preference, but let's be real...you'll be happy to have a shot at either one. If you're looking for more immediate impact, Arenado is your guy, as there is speculation he could reach the majors after a nice start at Double-A. If you have time to spare, I do prefer Kelly...er... Rendon ever so slightly. There's clearly risk involved with his health and his potential transition to second base, but if he has even average power I think he ends up the more valuable of these two players. If he is able to stick at second base, his value increases even further as the standard for second base is considerably lower than third. I think you could make a case for either of these guys, and it's quite possible that I am falling victim to that cruel mistress named potential by choosing Rendon over Arenado, but hey- that's why we prospect, is it not?

Disagree? Tell me why I'm wrong in the comments...

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